In addition to their rigorous classroom contributions, faculty from the Johnson-Shoyama School are devoted to their research and writing in order to make an impact on issues affecting health and social policy; science, technology and innovation; trade and transnational regulation; among others. Read on to discover the kinds of exciting research projects our faculty are presently involved in.

The Implications of Big Data for Policy Analysis and Governance - Justin Longo, Cisco Research Chair, is investigating what the big data movement might mean for the future practise of policy analysis, and how it might influence our notions of governance. Traditional approaches to policy analysis in government have so far been largely immune to the types of radical disruption that other parts of the economy have faced in recent years. But the continued and combined advance of technology-propelled forces such as open collaboration, open data, big data analytics, and artificial intelligence signal a future for policy analysis that may be quite unlike the past. This research theme focuses on policy analysis using big data - the signals that people generate using communication devices like mobile smartphones, consumer products connected to the Internet of Everything (IoE), and electronic payment cards. Coupled with sensors and instruments that measure environmental and contextual variables, these signals can help in understanding and predicting human behaviour in contexts such as transportation, energy, healthcare, policing, and purchasing decisions. With massive amounts of digital data increasingly available, the future of problem definition framing and solution analysis in public policymaking can be built on a platform of robust, precise, and complete data. Separate research projects are investigating leadership perspectives on the future of big data and algorithmic governance, as well as an assessment of the new skills need in the practise of policy analysis in the big data era. A one-day symposium that will bring together government executives, policy analysts, academics and private sector leaders is currently being planned to complement this research. A related project is investigating the concept of the “digitally invisible” - those people in society who, by virtue of situations such as poverty or homelessness, are not represented in big data sets and are not reflected in big data policy analysis.

Ideas, Interests, and Institutions: Fiscal Redistribution and Territorial Politics in Four Federal Systems - Daniel Béland, Canada Research Chair, in collaboration with André Lecours of the University of Ottawa, is investigating the politics of equalization in four federal systems: Australia, Spain, Switzerland and Canada.  The four countries show a strong contrast between two political outcomes. Fiscal redistribution between regions is highly contentious in Spain and in Canada, while in Australia and Switzerland, territorial transfers have proven less controversial. The research project raises two major questions: Why does the territorial redistribution of financial resources become a major political issue in some federal states while it remains much less controversial in others? When there is strong politicization, how does it occur? The work is funded by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), 2008-2011.

Value Generation through Genomics (GE3LS project), co-lead by  Peter W.B. Phillips and David Castle (University of Ottawa). This $5.4 million project focuses on three important factors for removing roadblocks to innovation in Canada's bio-based economy. These factors include: (1) examining the role of intellectual property, (2) studying new ways of regulating important new agricultural technologies and products, and (3) adapting and testing a range of engagement tools with the Canadian public to determine their interests, fears and attitudes concerning new technologies. For more information on the VALGEN project, please click here.

Business culture and tax evasion: Why corruption and the unofficial economy can persist - Why would a successful company like Enron jeopardize its future by engaging in accounting fraud? After Enron's public fall, why would other companies emulate its practices?  In a new academic work investigating cheating (such as tax evasion) and corruption (such as bribes paid to tax inspectors), co-authors Murray Fulton and Monika Cule show why creating a non-corrupt society is so difficult for policy makers: cheating and corruption breed more cheating and corruption. As more people engage in these activities, the moral cost of this behaviour falls, which encourages greater engagement. And when cheating is rife, stiffer fines have a perverse effect: cheating actually increases. Higher fines mean a greater benefit for tax inspectors, who thereby encourage more cheating. Fulton and Cule conclude - among other things -- that governments must be seen to be fair and even-handed, particularly in tax collection, to avoid the economically devastating pitfalls associated with corruption, black markets and tax evasion.

Wait Times For Public Health Care: A Political Economy Analysis - Haizhen Mou uses a unique political economy framework to evaluate the boundary between public care and private care in a mixed health care system. The main differences between public and private systems  are that wait times are longer in the former, but that citizens must pay for basic health services in the latter. Haizhen's investigation shows that voters' preferences for public or private care vary based on age, health status and income.  However, while actual wait times are affected by demographics, they are independent of income distribution and political influence, which affect only individual tax-transfer rates. Haizhen is also working on a related evaluation of private-public health expenditures in OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries since 1980. Her results indicate that not only demographics and income determine the mix of public-private funding, but so do the ideological views of a country's citizens.

The State of Saskatchewan Cities - Most people think of Saskatchewan as a rural province both in terms of its economy and its people. Clearly, the roots of the province reflect its agricultural heritage and the strong growth in natural resource activity that started in the 1970s. This report provides a description of the major population centres in Saskatchewan to see if the persistent views of the province’s economic structure, held as strongly within the province as they are outside the province, are true. Saskatchewan cities are examined on a broad range of demographic and socio-economic measures relative to the rest of the province and relative to cities in the neighbouring provinces to see if there are new or emerging trends in Saskatchewan cities and whether their role in the province has changed or needs to be reconsidered.

The report was commissioned by the Regina Regional Opportunities Corporation and Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Corporation at the suggestion of the Saskatchewan Institute of Certified Management Consultants.