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					Set Up: The System
PS 202 -- American Political Institutions and Processes

Fall 2001

The Context: Policy Making as a Decision Problem
Four General Models of Collective Decision Making:
 “Rational” or “Comprehensive” Model  Bargaining or “Incremental” Model

 Political or “Dominance” Model
 “Garbage-Can Model of Organizational Choice”

The Rational Model of Decision Making
Might call it the “Ross Perot” Model -- Look under the hood and fix it Attributes
 Understand goals - Maximize

 Conflict over goals, what

their attainment
 Clean Air

 Problem identified - Goals not

being fulfilled or simply can do better
 Smog in urban areas

 Identify range of possible

 Methods for limiting sources

 Gather necessary information
 Scientific, technical analysis

 Select best alternative - one

trying to achieve  Lack of time to canvass all possible solutions  Lack of information to judge all solutions and uncertainty about preferences  Therefore, can’t agree on “best” or “optimal” approach Just Not the Way Things Are Done Most of the Time

that maximizes goals

Apollo Moon Mission

The Bargaining Model of Decision Making
Might call it the “Inside-the-Beltway” Model -- Negotiated incrementalism Attributes
 Multiple, competing goals
 Equity, efficiency, justice, interests

 Conflict over goals is too

 “Adaptive rationality”
 “Problemistic search” when problem emerges that is troublesome enough

severe to negotiate
 Health care reform

 No ongoing relationships,

 Sequential search for

 Those in “the neighborhood”

or they are not valued  Incremental or small policy changes are not sufficient
 Threshold effects (Florida)

 Choose alternatives that help

resolve conflict
 Look at one at a time based on ongoing relationships

 There are distinct winners

and losers

 “Satisficing” - no one gets

everything, all get something

The Budget

Just Not the Way Things Are Done Much of the Time

The Dominance Model of Decision Making
Might call it the “Common Cause” Model -- Powerful interests dominate Attributes
 Overt goal conflict
 Focus on the immediate

 Preferred goals are not

usually mutually exclusive
 Policy making involves

decision -- get what you can now
 Relationships are valued less

than policy outcomes
 Alternatives are identified by

many multiple interactions, so relationships can rarely be ignored
 The policy-making system

competing interests
 The alternative preferred by the

most powerful participants is chosen

is too fragmented to be routinely dominated by one set of participants Just Not the Way Things Are Done Most of the Time

Elections, 1995 Budget Battle

The Garbage-Can Model of Decision Making
Accommodates all types of decisions under different conditions: rational, bargaining, dominance, or both large-scale and incremental Organizational Setting: “Organized Anarchies”:
 Low compatability among goals or little understanding of

what the goals mean
 Universities providing education -- what does that mean?

 The “technology” -- the way to accomplish tasks -- is not

well understood
 Universities and teaching methods -- lectures, labs, discussion sections

 Very loosely structured system for making choices, with

fluid participation
 Unclear hierarchies, people come and go, all kinds of people can participate in decision making -- administrators, faculty, students

Michael Cohen, James March, and Johann Olsen

The Garbage-Can Model of Decision Making
The Mechanism for Making Choices: Three primary “streams” -- not in any particular order and relatively independent on one another
 Problems  Solutions (not necessary created in response to the problems)  Participants

Streams come together at “choice opportunities” -- times when the organization is scheduled to act or has to act The Garbage Cans
Michael Cohen, James March, and Johann Olsen

Kingdon: Apply Garbage-Can Decision Making to the Federal Government
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty in ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the May not know what it means, or United States of American. how to do it, Technology
and then no clear performance measures to see whether it has been done
Preamble to the U.S. Constitution:

Frequent conflict or competition among goals Difficult to know the meaning of goals


Fluid -- President, EOP, executive branch, members of Congress, courts, interest groups, experts, media, multiple participants in state and local governments, nonprofits, everyone

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