The Health Policy Process in Vietnam: Going Beyond Kingdon’s Multiple Streams Theory; Comment on “Shaping the Health Policy Agenda: The Case of Safe Motherhood Policy in Vietnam”

Document Type : Commentary


1 KIT Health, Royal Tropical Institute, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

2 Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune, India


This commentary reflects upon the article along three broad lines. It reflects on the theoretical choices and omissions, particularly highlighting why it is important to adapt the multiple streams framework (MSF) when applying it in a socio-political context like Vietnam’s. The commentary also reflects upon the analytical threads tackled by Ha et al; for instance, it highlights the opportunities offered by, and raises questions about the centrality of the Policy Entrepreneur in getting the policy onto the political agenda and in pushing it through. The commentary also dwells on the implications of the article for development aid policies and practices. Throughout, the commentary signposts possible themes for Ha et al to consider for further analysis, and more generally, for future research using Kingdon’s multiple streams theory.


Main Subjects

  1. Ha BT, Mirzoev T, Mukhopadhyay M. Shaping the health policy agenda: the case of safe motherhood policy in Vietnam. Int J Health Policy Manag. 2015;4(11):741-766.  doi:10.15171/ijhpm.2015.153
  2. United Nations General Assembly.  Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Resolution: A/RES/70/1, recital 16 on page 5f. Published September 25, 2015.
  3. Kingdon JW. Agendas, Alternatives and Public Policies. 2nd ed. New York: Harper Collins; 1995.
  4. Ness E. The politics of determining merit aid eligibility criteria: an analysis of the policy process. J Higher Educ. 2010;81(1):33-60. doi:10.1353/jhe.0.0080
  5. Ness EC, Mistretta MA. Policy adoption in North Carolina and Tennessee: a comparative case study of lottery beneficiaries. Rev High Ed. 2009;32(4):489-514. doi:10.1353/rhe.0.0086
  6. Howlett M, McConnell A, Perl A. Moving policy theory forward: connecting multiple stream and advocacy coalition frameworks to policy cycle models of analysis. Australian Journal of Public Administration. 2016. doi:10.1111/1467-8500.12191
  7. Howlett M, McConnell A, Perl A. Streams and stages: reconciling Kingdon and policy process theory. Eur J Polit Res. 2015;54(3):419-434. doi:10.1111/1475-6765.12064
  8. Cairney P, Jones MD. Kingdon’s multiple streams approach: what is the empirical impact of this universal theory? Policy Stud J. 2016;44(1):37-58. doi:10.1111/psj.12111
  9. Jones MD, Peterson HL, Pierce JJ, et al. A river runs through it: a multiple streams meta-review. Policy Stud J. 2016;44(1):13-36. doi:10.1111/psj.12115
  10. Bell DA. China's New Confucianism: Politics and Everyday Life in a Changing Society. Princeton: Princeton University Press; 2010.
  11. Bell DA. East Asia and the West: the Impact of Confucianism on Anglo-American Political Theory. In: Dryzek JS, Honig B, Philips A, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Political Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2006.
  12. Shane S, Venkataraman S, MacMillan I.  Cultural differences in innovation championing strategies. J Manage. 1995;21:931-946.
  13. Angle HL, Van de Ven AH. Suggestions for managing the innovation journey. In: Van de Ven A, Angle HL, Poole MS, eds. Research on the Management of Innovation. New York: Harper and Row; 1989.
  14. Roberts NC, King P. Policy entrepreneurs: their activity structure and function in the policy process. J Public Adm Res Theory. 1991;1(2):147-175.
  15. Roberts NC. Public entrepreneurship and innovation. Policy Stud Rev. 1992;11(1):55-71.
  16. Zohlnhöfer R. Herweg N, Huß C. Bringing formal political institutions into the multiple streams framework. An analytical proposal for comparative policy analysis. Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis: Research and Practice. 2015. doi:10.1080/13876988.2015.1095428.
  17. Herweg N. Explaining European agenda-setting using the multiple streams framework: the case of European natural gas regulation. Policy Sci. 2016;49(1):13-33. doi:10.1007/s11077-015-9231-z
  18. Béland D. Kingdon reconsidered: ideas, interests and institutions in comparative policy analysis. Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis: Research and Practice. 2015.  doi:10.1080/13876988.2015.1029770
  19. Weible CM, Schlager E. The multiple streams approach at the theoretical and empirical crossroads: an introduction to a special issue. Policy Stud J. 2015;44(1):5-12. doi:10.1111/psj.12143
  20. Malqvist M,  Hoa DT, Liem NT, Thorson A, Thomsen, S. Ethnic minority health in Vietnam: a review exposing horizontal inequity. Glob Health Action. 2013;6:1-19. doi:10.3402/gha.v6i0.19803.