New CSB Working Paper: The Implementation of Social Policy: A Factorial Survey Approach

11 Apr 2017

The implementation of social policies has a multidimensional character. We present an experimental method (factorial survey) by means of which one can gather data from a large number of respondents from several agencies and across countries. A concrete research example involves a survey among Belgian social assistance case managers, who were asked to predict the likelihood of experimentally varied hypothetical clients being sanctioned. The data had a multi-level structure (3=organisation [n=79]; 2=respondent [n=594]; and 1=client descriptions [n=4855]).
We empirically show how the method is useful for studies on issues such as conditionality (client level), discretion (social worker and organisation level), decentralisation (municipality/region level) and international policymaking (country level). Our recommendations for the use of factorial surveys with regard to social policy implementation research are: asking for expected and not for preferred treatment, adding a questionnaire about respondents and their organisation, stratified sampling of respondents and using multi-level techniques for analysis.
Working Paper Author: Marjolijn De Wilde & Peter Goos
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