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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, which is as ancient as human civilization itself. Most of the ancient philosophers looked at politics in general, theoretical ways.

Platos Republic The search for justice. One of Platos objectives in the Republic was to show that justice is worthwhilethat just action is a good in itself, and that one ought to engage in just activity even when it doesnt seem to confer immediate advantage. Aristotles 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]

Introduction
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.

Introduction
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 years.

Introduction
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.

Introduction
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.

Introduction
A major element of studying and teaching public policy is the reliance of policy studies on a broad range of the social sciences.

Introduction
Table 1.1. Selected Disciplines That Study Public Policy
Discipline Political Science Description
The study of political relationships; that is, the study of the processes by which societies seek to allocate political power and the benefits of such power, Sociology is the study of social life, social change, and the social causes and consequences of human behavior. Sociologists investigate the structure of groups, organizations, and societies, and how people interact within these contexts. The study of the allocation of resources in a community, however defined. Economists study markets and exchanges. Welfare economists seek to understand the extent to which an overall communitys welfare can be maximized.

Relationship to Public Policy


The political process is the process through which policies are made and enforced.

Some important journals


American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, Policy, Political Research Quarterly, Public Opinion Quarterly American Sociological Review, Contemporary Sociology, Journal of Sociology

Sociology

Community and group activities are an important part of policy making, because groups of people often form to make demands.

Economics

There are many economic factors that influence public policy, such as economic growth, productivity, employment, and the like. The tools of economics are often used to promote policies or to explain why policies succeed or fail.

American Economic Review, Econometrica, Journal of Applied Economics, Journal of Political Economy.

Introduction
Table 1.1. Selected Disciplines That Study Public Policy
Discipline Public Administration Description
The study of the management of government and nonprofit organizations, including the management of information, money, and personnel to achieve goals developed through the democratic process. The study of what governments choose to do or not to do, including studies of the policy process, policy implementation and impact, and evaluation.

Relationship to Public Policy


The management of public programs is an integral part of the policy process. PA scholars study the motivation of program implementers and targets and help research innovations to improve service delivery. We give this label to the highly interdisciplinary study of the public policy process. Policy scholars develop theories about how the policy process works and develop tools and methods to analyze how policy is made and implemented.

Some important journals


Public Administration Review, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory

Public Policy

Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Journal of Public Policy, Policy Studies Review, Policy Studies Journal, Journal of Policy History

Introduction
Because the field of public policy studies is so new, it has yet to coalesce around a shared set of principles, theories, and priorities (paradigm). 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 women.

Policy Science as Applied Science


Anecdotal evidence versus scientific evidence: The case of food stamps (discuss).
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 cents. 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 necessarily. Difference between policy description and policy advocacy.

Policy Studies as a Science


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 Science


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 Science


Lasswells recommendations for an empirically driven, methodologically rigorous, yet flexible style of policy research has served as the basis for policy studies in late 20th 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 Science


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 publics name. Policy is generally made or initiated by government. Policy is interpreted and implemented by public and private actors. Policy is what the government intends to do. Policy is what the government chooses not to do.

What Is Public Policy?


Table 1.2. Defining Public Policy
Definition
The term public policy always refers to the actions of government and the intentions that determine those actions. Public policy is the outcome of the struggle in government over who gets what. Whatever governments choose to do or not to do. Public policy consists of political decisions for implementing programs to achieve societal goals. Stated most simply, public policy is the sum of government activities, whether acting directly or through agents, as it has an influence on the life of citizens.

Author
Clarke E. Cochran, et al.

Clarke E. Cochran, et al.

Thomas Dye

Charles L. Cochran and Eloise F. Malone.

B. Guy Peters.

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 governed. Thus, government actions must be in the public interest. But people differ dramatically in what is the public interest.
Commercial interests versus environmentalists.

What Makes Public Policy Public?


Not even the most intense policy advocates are interested in every issue. 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 time.

Why Do We Study Public Policy?


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.