studying public policy howlett and ramesh pdf

Studying Public Policy Howlett And Ramesh Pdf

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Studying Public Policy examines three dimensions of efforts to engage and resolve public problems: policy actors, institutions, and ideas. Using this focus, the book overviews past efforts to understand public policy-making, outlines the different stages of the policy-making process, and discusses the principal elements and patterns of policy dynamics.

Studying Public Policy

To browse Academia. Skip to main content. By using our site, you agree to our collection of information through the use of cookies. To learn more, view our Privacy Policy. Log In Sign Up. Download Free PDF. Michael Howlett. Download PDF. A short summary of this paper. This article seeks to explore and advance the opportunities for combining both and applying them to the policy-formation and decision- making stages of policy making.

In doing so it examines possible three, four and five stream models. It argues that a five stream confluence model provides the highest analytical value because it retains the simplicity of metaphors combining elements of two of the most prominent models in policy studies while also helping capture some of the more complex and subtle aspects of policy processes, including policy styles and nested systems of governance.

Keywords: Kingdon, John W. Certainly, the parsimony of metaphors Rayner brings with it a lack of specificity and so our intention here is not to criticise either of these prominent metaphors. Rather, it is to suggest that there is value in the policy sciences prising open a window to use John W.

The confines of one short article limit our capacity to explore all stages of the policy process, but we do examine in depth the policy-formation and decision-making stages. The policy sciences often develop incremen- tally and pragmatically DeLeon and so our approach here is an incremental step in a new direction, and consistent with recent key policy texts flagging the need to consider issues of conceptual convergence in the policy sciences Cairney ; John The article begins by examining briefly the values and limits of both metaphors.

It then explores, with illustrative examples throughout, a number of potential alternative models: three-into-one tributary model; three streams — two phases model; four stream model; and our preference, a five stream confluence model. This latter option is examined in some detail with an explanation of how it can help capture some of the more nuanced features of public policy, including policy strategies and styles as well as multilayered policy-formation processes leading to varieties of different policy outcomes.

We provide here only an elementary summary as a primer for subsequent analysis. Different authors have adapted these metaphors in a multitude of ways, and the number of stages and the terminology attached to each has varied considerably. The organic cycle metaphor not only became a standard feature of many textbooks and practitioner classes for an exemplar, see Althaus et al.

Yet the stages and cycles metaphors have many detractors e. A latter-day metaphor that has gained substantial momentum since the mids is the work of John W. Kingdon , Paradoxically, therefore, the enduring appeal of both metaphors is combined with extensive criticisms that they are in many respects detached from the Realpolitik of public policy.

Yet can the two metaphors combined be greater than the sum of their parts? The way forward is far from simple. Some attempts have been made to combine streams and cycles, but mixing metaphors can be a difficult task, often leading to confusion rather than enlight- enment.

Barzelay , for example, advocates a relatively simple merger of the two metaphors, arguing that agenda-setting events set up chains of causality. He states: In the overall process, agenda-setting events influence alternative-specification events through two causal channels. First, problem definition trajectories influence the con- struction and winnowing of alternatives, through the influence of issue framing and the assignment of issues to distinct venues for alternative specification.

The trajectories of decision-making events are, in turn, influenced by agenda-setting and alternative-specification events. This aspect of the overall policymaking process arises because the rendering of alternatives, in combination with pressures responsible for an elevated issue status, may open the gates to decisional venues and their corresponding decisional agendas.

Barzelay — In essence, for Barzelay, initial agenda-setting effectively determines the subsequent stages of the policy process. Yet such a view ignores the turbulence and complexities that might take place in the ensuing stages, altering or even terminating proposed policy trajectories Howlett et al.

Nevertheless, some scholars have persisted with the idea that three streams — problems, policies and politics — simply cross over into policy formation, implementation and evalu- ation see, e.

Doing so requires consideration of additional streams. What follows in the various models addresses principally a and b. It is only in our five stream model that we address more fully elements c and d. Figure 1. Three-into-one tributary model. There are, however, some difficulties with this model.

This is because, to varying degrees, public policy is driven not just by the need to solve problems, but also by the political need to be seen to address problems — even at the expense of failing to solve the problem itself Hood ; Howlett ; McConnell a, b. Policy making can then become less about problem solving and just as much, if not more, a political issue of management and control, diffusing the original problem or marginalising or even eliminat- ing it from discussion Hood This important issue also resonates with literature on policy success and political risk see, e.

Policy makers have multiple goals — often traded off against each other in calculated or even instinctive risk assessment of the political reper- cussions of pursuing policy-oriented goals Althaus ; McConnell a, b.

Attempting to definitively solve the policy problem may only be one among many policy-making goals, and may be further down the pecking order than political imperatives. Issue attention cycle-type dynamics where issues rise suddenly onto policy agendas before disappearing almost as rapidly are also good examples where there is a surge in attention and interest to deal with a problem, but then efforts fade away, often with only a token initiative in response Downs ; Hogwood ; Howlett Many public sector employers, for example, attempt initially to address major gender equity issues such as a lack of women in senior management positions and women being disadvantaged in the workforce because they are not part of male social networks, only to produce initiatives such as gender-affirmative job advertisements that are much smaller in scope than many advocates wanted to see.

Often the problem is reframed as the symptoms of undesirable circumstances rather than the causes. As can be seen from these examples, channeling post-agenda developments into a single stream that is wide enough to accom- modate their divergent dynamics obfuscates more than it clarifies the subsequent unfolding of many policies. A streams metaphor that does not maintain the distinctiveness of politics is, in our view, one that is lacking in acuity.

The first stage is the streams approach of Kingdon, culminating in agenda entrance. In the second stage, there are also three streams: policies, politics and process. A hypothetical example is the case of road transportation in an urban area where traffic congestion has made it onto the agenda. The model also raises some interesting possibilities for understanding policy dynamics because different types of Figure 2.

Three stream — two stages model. Some processes could be more politicised than others e. And some may be relatively policy-oriented e. Yet the virtues in conceiving of a new process stream within which the problem remains quite stable are also problematic.

Competing constructions of policy problems are a routine feature of policy processes, and can lead to policies — often suites of policies — with different and non-mutually exclusive definitions of the problem Daugbjerg , ; Hajer ; Howlett ; Sabatier et al. As the London riots and other examples cited above have shown, policy processes often deviate from original problems, notwithstanding the fact that the nature of the problem may be highly contestable from the start e.

Importantly, these earlier works postulated the existence of four — not three — streams, comprising problems, solutions, participants and a fourth process or choice opportunities stream. More to the point, for someone looking at the entire cycle it can be argued that, as Cohen, March and Olson originally specified, choice opportunities constitute a separate stream akin to a policy development process, one in which collective energies are marshaled at specific points in time in the expectation that a decision will be taken and then appropriate action will be pursued.

We depict this four stream model in Figure 3. There is some initial attraction in moving to such a four stream model in reconciling stream and stages metaphors — principally because it helps take us beyond the agenda- setting phase while extending the window of opportunity dynamic into the realm of policy development and decision making.

In doing so it can help explain how problems and processes may flow independently of each other if new evidence comes to light on the nature of the problem as is sometimes the case when new governments interrogate the budget of the previous administration or if the process involves bargaining and deal- making and moves away from the original definition of the problem coalition or minority government policy making, for example. Yet there are some quite fundamental limitations of this four stream model, even allowing for the necessary simplicity of metaphors.

There is no clear logic in terms of how the four streams might interact with one another. Four stream model. If, for example, a public consultation process on introducing daylight saving time produces conflicting views, does the politics stream simply stop because of a delibera- tive deadlock? Does the problem get redefined, like that of children going to school in the dark? It is also unclear exactly where the choice stream originates and of what it is composed.

Although it could be equated with an institutional timetable for action see, e. And, to continue the analogy, such a four stream model would have difficulty explaining why the streams stopped flowing if an agenda item did not result in a policy outcome. Consultation on local tax changes in the United Kingdom in the early s did not result in any policy outcome other than doing nothing , essentially because the Thatcher government a key actor in the political stream decided that no feasible alter- native existed to the existing system McConnell A viable and extended streams model should be able to accommodate important aspects of the relationship between streams.

Figure 4 illustrates a dominant political stream, although as argued below, other streams may also dominate. Confluence point I is precisely along the lines Kingdon suggested, when the three streams converge at the agenda-setting stage. Five stream confluence model example of dominant political stream. Note: This example is illustrative of dominant political stream and aqueducts flowing within it which survive all potential confluence disruptions.

In other instances, different streams may dominate with the remaining streams flowing as aqueducts within its parameters. Confluence points have the potential to reconfigure which stream dominates at a particular stage.

The end of this appraisal phase is marked by a sub-confluence point IA , which also constitutes the beginning of the consolidation phase of policy formation and the configuration of the various streams. Here the three initial agenda-setting streams problems, policies, politics are joined by two further streams.

The first is a process stream, designed to examine options, support authori- tative decisions and so on, which sets up the future timetable for deliberations and estab- lishes the general course through which the stream will flow. The second is a programme stream, designed to calibrate new programme instruments and integrate them with estab- lished ones. This appraisal phase ends with a sub-confluence point IIA, which leads into a final consoli- dation phase where the dominant stream and all the other streams are configured to flow towards a final policy settlement decision or decisions.

Crucially, therefore, and unlike any of the other potential streams model, a degree of complexity is recognised because the five streams can be nested within each other to help explain different types of policy making and the way in which one particular stream can be in effect an agenda setter, setting the parameters for other streams within it.

Indeed, further confluence points are possible with a reconfiguration of the streams. This example alerts us to the fact that complex policy processes may produce different dominant streams. The typology below is not exhaustive of all policy types that are possible but is intended to illustrate several common possibilities that could characterise policy formula- tion in a confluence-inspired metaphorical world.

Dominant political stream. A different form of political dominance is phenomena such as coalition government policy-making and peace processes, where there is a premium placed on reaching agreement among the various participants. Dominant policy stream. In this style or type, the policy stream would dominate and set the boundaries within which all other streams would flow — for example, problems definition and construction of , politics de facto back seat , processes consultation, deliberation and programmes the specific instru- ments that would be used to realise the policy aims.

Dominant process stream.


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As a global organisation, we, like many others, recognize the significant threat posed by the coronavirus. During this time, we have made some of our learning resources freely accessible. Our distribution centres are open and orders can be placed online. Do be advised that shipments may be delayed due to extra safety precautions implemented at our centres and delays with local shipping carriers. Request Inspection Copy. Studying Public Policy develops an analytical framework that will enable students to study public policy more effectively.

Studying Public Policy

The Voice of Political Science around the World. By : Michael Howlett. More About this Book. Studying Publisc Policy develops an analytical framework of the subject for students in public policy course. Instead of focussing on the substantive policy of a particular policy area, the book examines the theoretical and conceptual foundations of, and approaches used in, the policy sciences.

Studying Public Policy

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Studying Public Policy: Policy Cycles & Policy Subsystems

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Ramesh argue that this approach does not do justice to the wealth of empirical studies pointing to a different set of factors responsible for general patterns of policymaking. Following a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the existing approaches, the authors inventory current British, American and Canadian literature on policy. Ramesh M. Ramesh, Michael P.

Comparative Policy Studies pp Cite as. Policies are thus actions which contain goal s and the means to achieve them, however well or poorly identified, justified, articulated and formulated. Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF. Skip to main content. This service is more advanced with JavaScript available.

Eduardo Araral, Scott Fritzen, Michael Howlett, M Ramesh, Xun Wu 20 Nov , Comparative approaches to the study of public policy- Document PDF may be used for research, teaching and private study purposes.

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