Introduction to theories of public policy
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Introduction to Theories of Public Policy. Outline Uses of Models Types of Models Group Work. Dye: Uses of Models. Simplify and clarify our thinking about politics and public policy Identify important aspects of policy problems

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Introduction to theories of public policy
Introduction to Theories of Public Policy

  • Outline

    • Uses of Models

    • Types of Models

    • Group Work


Dye uses of models
Dye: Uses of Models

  • Simplify and clarify our thinking about politics and public policy

  • Identify important aspects of policy problems

  • Help us to communicate with each other by focusing on essential features of political life

  • Direct our efforts to understand public policy better by suggesting what is important and unimportant

  • Suggest explanations for public policy and predict its consequences


Introduction to theories of public policy

1. Who participates in policy making?

2. How are policy decisions made?

3. What are the underlying assumptions of the theory/model?

4. If the author is right, what are the consequences for the general public of policy decisions made in accordance with the particular theory/model?


Types of models
Types of Models

There are 4 questions you should be able to answer about each of the theories or models you will be exposed to:


1 institutionalism
1. Institutionalism

Public policy as institutional output

  • Who: executive, legislative, and judicial branches

  • How: policy is authoritatively determined, implemented, and enforced by these institutions (legitimacy, universality, and coercion)

  • Implications/assumptions: individuals have little impact; structure/design affects outcomes


2 process model
2. Process Model

Public policy as political activity

  • Who: voters, interest groups, legislators, presidents, bureaucrats, judges

  • How: ID problem, set agenda, formulate policy proposals, legitimate policies, implement policies, evaluate policies

  • Implications/assumptions: who participates has a critical or determinant impact on the process


3 group theory
3. Group Theory

Public policy as group equilibrium

Who: interest groups, their allies in government

  • How: struggle among interest groups with legislature/executive as referee to manage group conflict and establish rules of the game

  • Implications/assumptions: groups will always join to press for particular issues, all interests will have an opportunity for representation


4 elite theory
4. Elite Theory

Public policy as elite preference

  • Who: elites that have power, ability to allocate value

  • How: implementation of the preferences and values of the governing elite; public officials merely carry out policies decided on by the elites

  • Implications/assumptions: public is apathetic elites agree upon norms; political action is merely symbolic; protects the status quo


5 rationalism
5. Rationalism

Public policy as maximum social gain

Who: decision makers (all social, political, economic values sacrificed or achieved by a policy choice) irrespective of dollar amount (Bentham, Mills)

  • How: select policy alternative(s) that allows gains to society to exceed benefits by the greatest amount

  • Implications/assumptions: assumes that the values preferences of the society as a whole can be known and weighted


6 incrementalism
6. Incrementalism

Public policy as variations on the past

  • Who: policy makers, legislators, others with a stake in ongoing programs or problems

  • How: continuation of past government activities with only incremental modifications

  • Implications/assumptions: accepts the legitimacy of established programs; fear of unintended consequences; sunk costs in other programs may minimize the opportunities for radical change


7 game theory
7. Game Theory

Public policy as rational choice in competitive situations

  • Who: players/decision makers who have choices to make and the outcome depends on the choice made by each (assumes rationality in making choices)

  • How: each player has goals and resources, a strategy developed given possible moves of opponent, and payoff values that constitute the outcomes of the game

  • Implications/assumptions: repeated plays should lead to better policy outcomes


8 public choice
8. Public Choice

Public policy as collective decision making by self-interested individuals

  • Who: rational self-interested individuals will in both politics and economics cooperate to achieve their goals

  • How: individuals come together in politics for their own mutual benefit; government must respond to market failures

  • Implications/assumptions: individuals have sufficient information to know what is in their best interest


9 systems theory
9. Systems Theory

Public policy as system output

  • Who: individuals, groups, or nations depending upon the scope of the problem

  • How: environment may stimulate inputs into political system, producing outputs and feedback

  • Implications/assumptions: systems implies an identifiable set of institutions and activities in society that functions to transforms demands into authoritative decisions requiring the support of the whole society; implies that the elements of the system are interrelated, that the system can respond to forces in its environment, and that it will do so to preserve itself


10 kingdon garbage can model
10. Kingdon-Garbage Can Model

  • Who: participants inside and outside government

  • How: choice opportunity is a garbage can into which various kinds of problems and solutions are dumped by participants as they are generated; policy outcomes are a function of the mix of the garbage: problems, solutions, participants, and participant resources in the can and how the can is processed

  • Implications/assumptions: each of the actors and processes can operate either as an impetus or as a constraint; streams operate largely independent of one another


Introduction to theories of public policy

1. Institutionalism

2. Process

3. Group Theory

4. Elite Theory

5. Rationalism

6. Incrementalism

7. Game Theory

8. Public Choice Theory

9. Systems Theory

10. Kingdon-Garbage Can Model