Policy cycle::Policy


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Policy cycle In political science, the policy cycle is a tool used for the analyzing of the development of a policy item. It can also be referred to as a "stagist approach", "stages heuristic" or "stages approach". It is thus a rule of thumb rather than the actual reality of how policy is created, but has been influential in how political scientists looked at policy in general.<ref> Robert T. Nakamura, THE TEXTBOOK POLICY PROCESS AND IMPLEMENTATION RESEARCH: Review of Policy Research Volume 7, Issue 1, pages 142–154, September 1987</ref> It was developed as a theory from Harold Lasswell's work.

One version has the following stages:

  1. Agenda setting (Problem identification) - The recognition of certain subject as a problem demanding further government attention.
  2. Policy Formulation - Involves exploring a variation of options or alternative courses of action available for addressing the problem. (appraisal, dialogue, formulation, and consolidation)
  3. Decision-making - Government decides on an ultimate course of action, whether to perpetuate the policy status quo or alter it. (Decision could be 'positive', 'negative', or 'no-action')
  4. Implementation - The ultimate decision made earlier will be put into practice.
  5. Evaluation - Assesses the effectiveness of a public policy in terms of its perceived intentions and results. Policy actors attempt to determine whether the course of action is a success or failure by examining its impact and outcomes.

An eight step policy cycle is developed in detail in The Australian Policy Handbook by Peter Bridgman and Glyn Davis: (now with Catherine Althaus in its 4th and 5th editions)

  1. Issue identification
  2. Policy analysis
  3. Consultation (which permeates the entire process)
  4. Policy instrument development
  5. Building coordination and coalitions
  6. Program Design: Decision making
  7. Policy Implementation
  8. Policy Evaluation

The Althaus, Bridgman & Davis model is heuristic and iterative. It is intentionally normative and not meant to be diagnostic or predictive. Policy cycles are typically characterized as adopting a classical approach, and tend to describe processes from the perspective of policy decision makers. Accordingly some postpositivist academics challenge cyclical models as unresponsive and unrealistic, preferring systemic and more complex models.<ref>Young, John and Enrique Mendizabal. Helping researchers become policy entrepreneurs, Overseas Development Institute, London, September 2009. </ref> They consider a broader range of actors involved in the policy space that includes civil society organisations, the media, intellectuals, think tanks or policy research institutes, corporations, lobbyists, etc.

Policy sections
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Policy cycle
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