PPA 503 – The Public Policy Making Process Lecture 1 – The Study and Practice of Public Policy Introduction • The study of public policy is firmly grounded in the study of politics whi by y2w5b44D


									PPA 503 – The Public
Policy-Making Process

  Lecture 1 – The Study and
   Practice of Public Policy
• The study of public policy is firmly grounded in the study
  of politics, which is as ancient as human civilization
• Most of the ancient philosophers looked at politics in
  general, theoretical ways.
   • Plato’s Republic – The search for justice. One of Plato’s
     objectives in the Republic was to show that justice is
     worthwhile—that just action is a good in itself, and that one
     ought to engage in just activity even when it doesn’t seem to
     confer immediate advantage.
   • Aristotle’s Politics - Since we see that every city-state is a
     sort of community and that every community is established
     for the sake of some good (for everyone does everything for
     the sake of what they believe to be good), it is clear that
     every community aims at some good, and the community
     which has the most authority of all and includes all the
     others aims highest, that is, at the good with the most
     authority. This is what is called the city-state or political
     community. [I.1.1252a1-7]
• Modern political theory.
  • Niccolo Machiavelli.
    • If we understand and plan the political
      actions we take in pursuit of our goals, we
      are better prepared to seize the political
      opportunities that arise in the normal course
      of political life.
  • Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Hegel, Marx,
    Weber, Durkheim.
    • Focused on the exercise of power between
      individuals, families, groups, communities,
      and the various levels of government.

• The systematic study of public
  policy is a 20th century phenomenon.
  • Dates to 1922, when political scientist
    Charles Merriam sought to connect the
    theory and practice of politics to
    understanding the actual activities of
    government, that is, public policy.
  • Nevertheless, most of the literature on
    public policy dates back only about 50

• The study of politics is the
  attempt to explain the various
  ways in which power is
  exercised in the everyday world
  and how that power is used to
  allocate resources and benefits
  to some people and groups, and
  costs and burdens to other
  people and groups.
• The study of public policy is the
  examination of the creation, by the
  government, of the rules, laws, goals, and
  standards that determine what government
  does or does not do to create resources,
  benefits, costs, and burdens.
• In studying public policy, we focus on
  those decisions made (or implicitly
  accepted) by government and
  nongovernmental actors to address a
  problem that a significant number of
  people and groups consider to be
  important and in need of a solution.

• A major element of studying and
  teaching public policy is the
  reliance of policy studies on a
  broad range of the social
Table 1.1. Selected Disciplines That Study Public Policy
Discipline          Description                    Relationship to                Some important
                                                   Public Policy                  journals

Political Science   The study of political         The political process is the   American Political Science
                    relationships; that is, the    process through which          Review, American Journal
                    study of the processes by      policies are made and          of Political Science, Journal
                    which societies seek to        enforced.                      of Politics, Policy, Political
                    allocate political power and                                  Research Quarterly, Public
                    the benefits of such power,                                   Opinion Quarterly

Sociology           Sociology is the study of      Community and group            American Sociological
                    social life, social change,    activities are an important    Review, Contemporary
                    and the social causes and      part of policy making,         Sociology, Journal of
                    consequences of human          because groups of people       Sociology
                    behavior. Sociologists         often form to make
                    investigate the structure of   demands.
                    groups, organizations, and
                    societies, and how people
                    interact within these

Economics           The study of the allocation    There are many economic        American Economic
                    of resources in a              factors that influence         Review, Econometrica,
                    community, however             public policy, such as         Journal of Applied
                    defined. Economists study      economic growth,               Economics, Journal of
                    markets and exchanges.         productivity, employment,      Political Economy.
                    Welfare economists seek to     and the like. The tools of
                    understand the extent to       economics are often used
                    which an overall               to promote policies or to
                    community’s welfare can be     explain why policies
                    maximized.                     succeed or fail.
Table 1.1. Selected Disciplines That Study Public Policy

Discipline       Description                    Relationship to                Some important
                                                Public Policy                  journals
Public           The study of the               The management of public       Public Administration
                 management of government       programs is an integral part   Review, Journal of Public
Administration   and nonprofit organizations,   of the policy process. PA      Administration Research
                 including the management       scholars study the             and Theory
                 of information, money, and     motivation of program
                 personnel to achieve goals     implementers and targets
                 developed through the          and help research
                 democratic process.            innovations to improve
                                                service delivery.

Public Policy    The study of what              We give this label to the      Journal of Policy Analysis
                 governments choose to do       highly interdisciplinary       and Management, Journal
                 or not to do, including        study of the public policy     of Public Policy, Policy
                 studies of the policy          process. Policy scholars       Studies Review, Policy
                 process, policy                develop theories about how     Studies Journal, Journal of
                 implementation and impact,     the policy process works       Policy History
                 and evaluation.                and develop tools and
                                                methods to analyze how
                                                policy is made and
• Because the field of public policy
  studies is so new, it has yet to
  coalesce around a shared set of
  principles, theories, and priorities
• For public policy to be useful, we
  must bridge the gap between what
  academics know and how
  practitioners and citizens use what
  we know to make better policy (or
  better policy arguments).
Policy Science as
Applied Science
• You may question whether
  policy is ―science‖, but science
  is defined as the state of
  knowing: knowledge rather than
  ignorance or misunderstanding.
• The values of empirical science:
  the number of teeth for men and
Policy Science as
Applied Science
• Anecdotal evidence versus scientific
  evidence: The case of food stamps
  • The problem with anecdotes is that they
    are little tidbits of information that are
    unsystematically gathered and that
    reflect the biases of the person relating
    the story.
• Question: Is the food stamp program
  a failure?
Policy Science as
Applied Science
• Scientific evidence (evaluation).
   • Compared to nonrecipients,
       • Participants spend a larger portion of their total expenditures on
         all food items.
       • Foods used at home by recipients have a greater monetary value
         per person and more nutrients per dollar.
       • Recipients are more likely to shop for food on a monthly basis,
         resulting in better planning and lower transportation costs.
       • The availability of twelve essential nutrients in the diet is higher
         for recipients.
   • One dollar increase in food stamp benefits increases food
     expenditures between 17 and 47 cents, whereas a dollar
     increase in income only increases food expenditures 5 to 10
   • Information is:
       • Peer-reviewed
       • Aggregate information rather than disconnected cases.
       • Runs counter to common wisdom.
Policy Science as
Applied Science
• Do food stamps ―work‖? Not
• Difference between policy
  description and policy
Policy Studies as a
• We can say that the careful
  study of public policy is
  ―scientific‖ because it
  contributes to knowledge by
  relying on methodological rigor.
  • Policy analysts share a
    commitment to methodology, but
    not to any one particular method.
Policy Studies as a
• Harold Lasswell argued that
  quantitative analysis and the
  scientific method were
  important elements of any
  policy science.
• But, Lasswell recognized that
  you must combine quantitative
  and qualitative information.
Policy Studies as a
• Lasswell’s recommendations for an
  empirically driven, methodologically
  rigorous, yet flexible style of policy
  research has served as the basis for
  policy studies in late 20 th century.
• But it is also driven by the desire to
  solve problems.
• No common paradigm. Dye lists
  eight theoretical traditions.
• Most of these theories need testing.
Policy Studies as a
• Theorizing is important,
  because they make sense of
  ambiguous evidence, and they
  develop concepts that apply to
  more than one case.
Science, Rationality,
and the Policy Process
• Policy analysis is an important
  component of policy sciences.
• But researchers should keep rational
  analysis in context: within the
  interplay of evidence, value and
  belief systems of the participants,
  the structure of the process, and the
  distribution of power.
• Most policy analysis is not value
  neutral. Problem identification is
  rarely neutral, for example.
What Is Public Policy?
• Attributes common to various
  definitions of public policy.
  • The policy is made in the ―public’s‖
  • Policy is generally made or initiated by
  • Policy is interpreted and implemented by
    public and private actors.
  • Policy is what the government intends to
  • Policy is what the government chooses
    not to do.
What Is Public Policy?

Table 1.2. Defining Public Policy
Definition                                      Author
The term public policy always refers to the     Clarke E. Cochran, et al.
actions of government and the intentions
that determine those actions.
Public policy is the outcome of the struggle    Clarke E. Cochran, et al.
in government over who gets what.

Whatever governments choose to do or not        Thomas Dye
to do.

Public policy consists of political decisions   Charles L. Cochran and Eloise F. Malone.
for implementing programs to achieve
societal goals.
Stated most simply, public policy is the sum    B. Guy Peters.
of government activities, whether acting
directly or through agents, as it has an
influence on the life of citizens.
What Makes Public
Policy Public?
• The dominant ideological foundation
  of our constitutional system is
  classical liberalism.
  • John Locke.
  • Power derives from the consent of the
  • Thus, government actions must be in the
    ―public interest‖.
  • But people differ dramatically in what is
    the public interest.
    • Commercial interests versus
What Makes Public
Policy Public?
• Not even the most intense policy
  advocates are interested in every
• We delegate the power to make
  policies in our names to elected
  officials. However, we retain our
  interest in the outcome and our right
  to promote particular policies at any
Why Do We Study Public
• To know more about the
  process for its own sake.
• To know more about the
  process to inform practitioners.
• To learn how to promote
  preferred policy options.

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