Policy analytic methods derived from hermeneutics and critical theory are particularly useful for the analysis of sport policy discourse. A key objective of such methods is to provide analyses with the potential to empower stakeholders by locating key attributions and legitimations that direct and constrain policy options. This concern for empowerment links policy analysis to recent arguments for the utility of participatory action research in sport management. Techniques of critical policy analysis provide a useful adjunct tool because they furnish interpretations and critiques that can be used by undervalued or excluded stakeholders to challenge debilitating policy assumptions. Two key Procedures for critical interpretation are illustrated via application to the discourse guiding the formulation of New Zealand's sport policies. Legitimation critique exposes key reasons why athletes were never pivotal to policy deliberations, and why subsequent policy outcomes fail to address key athlete concerns. Attribution critique illumines the presuppositions that caused the development of sport infrastructure or sport programs to be excluded from the policy focus. It is argued that policy design failures of this kind can be averted via the application of critical policy analysis during policy design.
Laurence Chalip is with the Faculty of Business and Hotel Management, Griffith University, PMB 50 Gold Coast Mail Centre, Queensland 4217, Australia.