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Introduction to Theories of Public Policy

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Presentation on theme: "Introduction to Theories of Public Policy"— Presentation transcript:

1 Introduction to Theories of Public Policy
Outline Uses of Models Types of Models Group Work

2 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

3 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?

4 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:

5 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

6 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

7 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

8 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

9 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

10 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

11 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

12 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

13 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

14 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

15 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

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