Public Policy Essay

Charles Lindblom published an article entitled: "The Science of Muddling Through" in 1959 and is 'one of the most highly cited articles in the Social Science Citation Index" (Weiss and Woodhouse, 1992, p.267; as cited by Kantor, 2000) and continues to generate debate and insights into policy making which are valuable to analysts (e.g.Lessman, 1989; Weiss and Woodhouse, 1992; Albaek, 1995) The Nature of Policy The argument of Lindblom was that the process of policy development is both a systematic and rational process and that "policy makers are constrained in their ability to develop policies on a blank sheet of paper.Begin planning to complete your essays and application today.

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The role of analysis is to keep that power in check, not to replace it." (Ibid) it is held by Lindblom and Woodhouse that the best path to the truth is the competition of ideas and that democracy opens up the marketplace for ideas providing the best opportunity for policy-making that is both reasoned and informed.

The problem is that competition may result in both reason and contention creating the question then of where does the balance lie between the "...power of politics and the politics of analysis?

As a result, they pursue an approach which makes incremental changes to existing policies." (Kantor, 2000) the suggestion of Lindblom was that "with skill, this type of policy-making can result in better outcomes than attempts at comprehensiveness." (Kantor, 2000) While others have confirmed that "incrementalism is the only realistic approach, as the rational-comprehensive ideal would paralyze the policy process due to the costs of undertaking the necessary research, consultation etc.

required to attain completeness (John, 1998)." Lindblom held that since policy-maker do not generally have all the required information that comprehensiveness was not realistic in ideal and as well policy-makers deal with constraints on resources such as limitations on time and rarely ever is a single objective of policy agreed upon.

(Cokrell, nd) The following labeled Figure 1 illustrates the Iron Triangle Model of Policy-making.

Basic Decision-Making Styles Severity of Constraints on Low High Decision Makers [Limited Actor, Single Level, Multi-Actor, Multi-level Single Round] Multi-Round] Low Type I Type III Clear Problem Definition, Rationale Decision-making Decision Accretion, Available Information, Decision Making Available Time] High Type II Type IV Poor Problem Definition, Incremental Decision-making Garbage Can Decision Limited Information, making Limited Time] The Major Players in the Process Lindblom and Woodhouse in the work entitled: "The Policy Making Process" state that policy occurs as much through a system as through the policy makers themselves although the policy-makers focus on a range of options that has already been narrowed down and that fit into a basic type of agreement.

Lindblom stated that: "Almost every interest has its watchdog.

Without claiming that every interest has a sufficiently powerful watchdog it can be argued that our system often can assure a more comprehensive regard for the values of the whole society than any attempt at intellectual comprehensiveness. 85) Group interaction is stated by some to be that which drives public policy.

Lindblom held that intentional incompleteness was much preferred to the "Inevitable, unplanned oversights which occur when policy-makers aspire to the rational-comprehensive ideal (Lindblom, 1979)." (Kantor, 2000) Lindblom acknowledged issues that were intentionally ignored in the view of incrementalism that were addressed through later policy revisions and that policy making is "serial and remedial, never producing once-and-for-all solutions to social problems (Lindblom, 1965)." (Ibid) Lindblom held that "incremental policy development delivers good outcomes when there are multiple decision makers within the system who represent a diversity of views.

These decision makers protect particular values within the policy process and ensure that the serial process outlined above does not overlook important concerns.


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