The usefulness of game theory as a method for policy evaluation

Leon Hermans, Scott Cunningham, Jill Slinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Most of today’s public policies are formulated and implemented in multi-actor networks. Game theory has long been around as a method that supports a careful analysis of interaction processes among actors. So far, it has not been widely applied in the evaluation field. Hence, questions regarding the usefulness of game theory as an evaluation method remain pertinent. This article addresses these questions, based on a review of literature on evaluations and game theory, and a case where game theory was used in an evaluation of coastal policy implementation in the Netherlands. The results suggest that game theory can help to open up the ‘black-box’ of policy implementation, when implementation depends on the actions of several interdependent actors. This potential lies not so much in ‘hard’ mathematical uses, but in the use of game theory as a formal modeling approach that adds structure and rigour to the study of social processes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-25
Number of pages16
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jan 2014


  • coastal management
  • evaluation methods
  • game theory
  • implementation
  • multi-actor systems


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