Uploaded by Maryam Ahmed

Mini Test 2 Review

Agenda Setting
- Process by which a condition becomes a problem amenable to government and is seen
as a priority
- Condition: Reality of social life, nothing can be done about it terms of policy
o Age, can’t do anything with aging in the population
o Decreasing global warming effects
- Problem: Pension provision, undesirable effect of a condition that is amendable to
government action
o If governments can’t do anything about it, it is not a policy problem
- Initiation (key)
o Conditions start to become a problem
o How any condition can be framed in different ways
o How we frame the problem will impact how we take policy actions
- Expansion
o How something that starts to be seen as a policy problem, travels between
different people/actors, can go international
 Women not being able to vote (high class women would be problematic)
- Entrance
o Makes it into the agenda and what we can do about these issues
o Timing refers to the time when something starts to become important (could be
there from before but is now relevant)
- Ideal agenda setting process
o Consider what are some possible solutions
- Bounded rationality, rationality exists but there are many blind spots such as values and
taking things for granted
- Punctuated equilibrium: Critique of the incremental model
- Garbage Can Model (ready-made solutions in search of problems)
o Assumes that problems, solutions and participants are disconnected and exist as
separate organizational streams
o No process for finding a solution exists and that decision makers are
disconnected from problems and solutions
o Ready-made solutions in search of problems
o Four streams (problems, solutions, participants and choice opportunities initiate
the rest)
o These three streams only meet when the fourth stream of choice opportunity
arises, as a garbage can, for the streams to flow in to and make decisions
Kingdons Streams Model
o Explains the policy formation process
o Policy change comes when three streams
 Problems
 A problem that requires attention
 Policy
 An available solution to the problem
 Politics
 Motivation and opportunity to turn it into a policy
Challenges of Agenda Setting
- Problem definition/analysis
o Separating causes from symptoms
- Tractability
o Leads to the idea of wicked problem, the more complex the more difficult it is to
treat it
- Agenda control
o Policy agenda is dominated by demands for responses to crisis and due to the
pressures for action, governments are often forced to take some easily available
course of action – this ameliorate the symptoms of problems but does not
address their root causes
- Used by politicians to score political points rather than making efforts to actually
address the problem
- Blaming the victim so governments can avoid responsibility
- Hijacked by media or interest groups with little concern for overall government
- Need to look at how conditions become problems
- Need to expand policy community beyond political elites and interest groups
- Insider/outside connection
- Importance of discourses and symbolism
- Interests/preferences vs. ideas/emotions
- Democratization of agenda setting
Actors in Agenda Setting
- Governments
- Policy elites
- Interest groups
- Feminist scholars would add
o Social movements
o Activists
o Citizens
o Media
Take Away Points
- Agenda setting as critical stage: Without an issue becoming a priority there is no policymaking
- How conditions become problems: Understand what factors make one issue become a
priority and not others
- Framing is key: How an issue is understood and presented will determine what policy
options are considered
- Solutions might precede problems: Bounded rationality
- Expand the policy community: Governments and powerful interest groups are essential,
but grassroots movements too
- Interests vs. emotions: What motivates policy change is not only a pre-defined rational
Lecture 2
Policy actors and Policy communities
- Focus on a specific sector
Actors in the policy process: policy “communities”
- From think tanks to legislatures and cabinet offices
Government Actors
- Operate at subnational, national, and increasingly international levels who actually
develop, decide upon and implement public policies
- Includes elected officials and appointed administrators
o Elected officials include legislators and executive members
o Appointees include civil servants and members of the judiciary
Societal Actors
- Can be representatives from interest groups, religious organizations, companies, labour
unions etc.
- Command different kinds of resources, from economic power to knowledge
- Public plays a small role in the public policy process
- Researchers at universities, research institutes and think tanks and they use their
expertise to develop perspectives on the issues facing governments
- Social media plays a role in bringing issues to the publics and government agendas
o Not always because they can have a lack of information and poor reporting
International Actors
- More likely to participate and act effectively in policy sectors in which there is an
international agreement sanctioning their intervention
o Ex. International Monetary Fund’s interfere in public policy-making in many
nations facing serious financial or fiscal issues
Policies, Plans and Programs
- Legislation
o Rules and limits defined through law
- Policy
o Principles needed to govern future actions
- Plan
o Future actions needed to achieve an objective
- Program
o Steps needed to implement the actions
- Project
o Concrete intervention involving actions
Policy Analysis
- Definition: Systematic evaluation of the feasibility of a policy (technical, economic,
ethnic and political)
- Goal: Provide information and justification for decision-making (choosing the best policy
- Types:
o Descriptive (after the fact)
 Can be retrospective (what happened) or evaluate (did it work as
o Prospective (ex-ante)
 Can be predictive (what are the probable effects) or prescriptive (what
should be done)
- Stages
o Problem identification/definition
o Determine evaluation criteria
o Identify alternatives
o Evaluation of alternatives
o Comparison of alternatives
o Assessment of outcomes
Rational Model of decision-making
- People are rational
- Problems can be disentangled
- Possible to consider costs and benefits of each option
- People make decisions after considering all possible options
- Choose the option that maximizes benefits (their goals, values and preferences)
Critiques to rational model
- Emphasis on cost-benefit analysis
- Is it possible?
- Ignores emotions, institutions and other factors
- Alternatives to rational approach
o Bounded rationality
 Assume that rationality exists but is constrained by a number of
 Constrained by money, language etc.
o Incrementalism
 Can happen but it doesn’t the way books teach us
 Change but not the “original” or “normal” way
o Mixed Scanning
 Combines both above, basic policy goals and directions
Policy Formulation
- Process of gathering a set of plausible policy choices capable of addressing problems
identified during agenda setting
- Assessment of options to see how feasible they are
- Not a linear process
- Most often about repackaging old policies, not creating new ones from scratch
- Who is involved: Government and advisors
Identify source of problem (can it be managed?)
Generate options (what tools are suitable and available?)
Set objectives (what should the policy achieve?)
Screen and consolidate options (how well each tool would work in this case?)
Build support (citizens, interest groups and political actors)
Assessment criteria: When assessing policy options, criteria can be used…
- Does It address the problem?
- Is it effective?
- Is it politically or technically feasible?
- Is it sustainable?
Poverty Reduction Strategy
- Goals for the next 4 years
o Improved access of services for those with low income
o A stronger social safety net
o Improved earned income
o Increased emphasis on early childhood development
o A better educated population
- Objectives
o Increased capacity within government to support an integrated and coordinated
o Work with Aboriginal people to improve their quality of life
o Greater support for the development of employment skills
Policy formulation – Content and Focus
- Policies have several layers and components
- From broad goals to specific tools
- Policy analysts should consider all of these components when formulating options
Policy tools/instruments
- Means or devices that governments use to implement policies
- Concrete mechanism for achieving a policy goal
- Challenge: Finding and deploying the right tools for achieving specific purposes
- Policy Mix: Multiple instruments can be used simultaneously
- Choice of policy tools is as political as technical
- Two main categories
o Public
 Regulations
 Economic incentives
 Direct provision
o Private
 Market
 Voluntary organizations
 Family
o Mixed
 Collaborative tools such as co-design and co-production
- NATO Model: All policy tools use one of the 4 government resources
o Nodality: Government information
o Authority: Legal powers
o Treasure: Money
o Organizations: Formal government organizations
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