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Notes on: Kingdon, J (1995) Agendas, alternatives, and public policies

Chapter 4: Processes: origins, rationality, incrementalism, and garbage cans


Rationality: is highly unrealistic in policy making
o o o o o Incrementalism: decision makers take what they are currently doing as given, and make small incremental, marginal adjustments in that current behavior The result is that policy changes very gradually, in small steps problematic preferences unclear technology fluid participation

Organized Anarchies's properties

Chapter 5-7: Three processes in federal government agenda settings


1) problem recognition (Chapter 5)
o Problems are situations we can do something about Budgetary problems are of a special kind There are three kinds of inexpensive programs Those who attempt to regulate costs (medicare cuts, etc) Those that are not directly regulatory, but policy makers think they will save costs (for example HMO's=Health Maintenance Organizations) Those that cost little, even if they won't solve the problem Problems are defined from three different aspects Values If the values are disrespected, that can be a problem Comparisons If others are doing better than us, that can be a problem Categories The category of the problem will change the way people see it Define our way of looking at the problem ("This is a transportation problem", "That is an educational problem", etc.) Problems are not always evident. They need indicators Come from data monitoring Change on an indicator = change on the state of the system Indicators need to be well interpreted The finding of good indicators is a highly demanding skill Focusing Events, Crises, and Symbols A crisis can be a push to bring problems to attention The more visibility a policy domain has, the less likely is that things will deteriorate to crisis and disaster But crisis alone, won't drive a policy agenda They need accompaniment Sometimes crisis are only taken as warnings!

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Notes on: Kingdon, J (1995) Agendas, alternatives, and public policies

Sometimes, one single event wouldn't be taken as a problem; just as something that happened by accident Feedback indicators Failure to meet the goals could indicate that there is a problem Raising costs can be indicative of a problem Unintended consequences of actions can also be a new problem

2) formation and refining of policy proposals (Chapter 6)


o Policy Communities: Communities are specialists in a given area Some of them are united, some are highly fragmented For example: Health is far less fragmented than transportation scattered both through and outside of government Some of them are on committee staffs in Congress Consequences of fragmentation Policy fragmentation Language fragmentation Instability Incentives for the communities to pay attention to a proposal WIIFM (What's in it for me) approach Personal interests Value promotion Actors join the coalitions out of fear of not sharing the cake if they don't Anticipation of Future Constraints It is very important that the policy makers see the ideas feasible in the future public acquiescence: it must be a "popular" idea Adding a solution to the problem Problems will be attended promptly if they are presented at the same time that their solution Do not forget that so called "new" ideas are often recombinations of old proposals Requisites for the Survival of a proposal Technical Feasibility Value Acceptability Efficiency

3) Politics (Chapter 7)
o How political agendas are affected National mood Is perceived in the attitudes of various more active sectors of the public Conservative, Austerity, Security, etc. Can affect governmental agenda

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Notes on: Kingdon, J (1995) Agendas, alternatives, and public policies

by promoting items that fit with that mood by inhibiting attention to items that do not Proposals must wait until the mood is correct Turnover Can occur because the people in key positions move over to other positions ... Or the people in key positions change their minds Jurisdiction Agendas can be "defined away" if actors believe the agenda items are not in their jurisdiction Battles to win credit can speed up agenda items! Competition for jurisdiction simply reinforces the other forces that are already at work o Consensus Building Among Policy Specialists is built by Persuasion and diffusion In the Political Arena is governed by bargaining The political stream flows along according to its own dynamics and its own rules

Chapter 8: The policy window, and joining the streams


What is a policy window?
o An opportunity to push the proposals of interest Everything tends to align The government agenda includes topics that are favorable to the proposal Problems or politics can structure it The decision agenda has a list of decisions that can positively affect the proposal The opening of a window establishes the priority of the decisions An item will rise to the decision agenda if problems, politics and policy collide Frequency: They are very infrequent Duration: They do no stay open for too long Participants may think that they have solved their problems and if not, that at least something has being started The events that prompted it open may pass

o o

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Notes on: Kingdon, J (1995) Agendas, alternatives, and public policies

Predictability: Why windows open and close Some are highly predictable Cycles Budgets Reports Larger cycles of discussions such as energy saving Expiring legislation Some are less predictable Sudden changes Change in political stream Change in the administration Turnover of any political actor Spillovers A window that opens for one item, can lead to the opening of a window for another item Savvy proposal advocates put "their foot on the door" and try to open their windows little by little But the moves have to be done very quickly because those windows close very fast

The coupling of the streams


o o o The idea is to couple one's solution with whatever problem is hot Example: advocates of mass transportation tried to couple with environmentalists, and then with energy savers. The outcomes can be very unpredictable

Policy entrepreneurs
o o o Advocates who are willing to invest in the proposal They follow their personality and own interests This gives personality more power than structure There are two kinds of activity Advocacy Brokerage Free-form process promote creativity

Competition for a place on the agenda


o The space on the agenda is limited by definition But it can be expanded in the honeymoon period Or it can be expanded by specialization Strategic considerations also play a role There is danger of overloading There are also logical constraints=an item can capture the attention and "steal" the attention from other items

o o

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Notes on: Kingdon, J (1995) Agendas, alternatives, and public policies

Chapter 9: Wrapping things up


Why some items are considered and why some others are disregarded?
o o Because of the participants Because of processes Problems: Why some are considered? Because of the means used to bring them to the attention of the officials Indicators Focusing events Feedback Conditions are different than problems, but can be presented as problems to increase their chance of consideration If the condition violates important values, it is transformed into a problem Conditions become problems by comparison with other countries or territories Classifying a condition in one category may make it look like a different kind of problem Politics National mood Bargaining and persuasion Visible and hidden participants Hidden participants: specialists, academics, researchers, consultants Visible participants: congressmen Alternative specification It is important to have alternatives, so the proposals don't fall off the agenda Policies o Participants and processes can act as impetus and as restraints

Predecision processes
o Agenda setting Governmental agenda=A list of subjects to which officials are paying a lot of attention at a given time There are general and specialized agendas Alternate specifications

The processes are not random at all. There are patterns


o o o o The processes operate within streams Some couplings are more likely than others There are various constraints that help predict how participants will play the game All the ideas are probabilistic

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