This document was written by Mathieu Masse-Jolicoeur. Mathieu is a planning, programming and research officer at the Direction régionale de santé publique du Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux du Centre-Sud-de-l’île-de-Montréal. He is also a lecturer at l’Université du Québec à Montréal in the political science department, and a lecturer at l’École nationale d’administration publique.
In this document, we look at the “Punctuated Equilibrium” model, which aims to explain why public policies tend to be characterized by long periods of stability punctuated by short periods of radical change. This model can help public health actors understand why governments are sometimes receptive to evidence and discussion leading to significant policy change, whereas at other times, government seems to be less receptive to change and only open to making minor adjustments. This model can also help guide the actions and strategies that public health actors can use to influence public policy. To this end, we will provide some insights on how public health actors can use the punctuated equilibrium model to analyze situations and identify opportune moments and strategies for acting upon policies.
An Introduction to Punctuated Equilibrium: A Model for Understanding Stability and Dramatic Change in Public Policies