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Public Policy: Introduction

Public Policy Studies

 various disciplines of sciences concerned with public policies (political science,

economics, cultural studies, finance, etc.)
 various subjects of public policy studies
 various reasons and objectives of public policy studies
-Thomas Dye in Understanding Public Policy:

1. SCIENTIFIC UNDERSTANDING: understanding the causes and consequences of policy

decisions improves our knowledge of society; it helps us learn about the linkages between
social and economic conditions in society, responses of political system and effects of
government activities.
2. PROFESSIONAL ADVICE (for professional reasons): permits us to apply social science
knowledge to the solution of practical problems. Factual knowledge is a prerequisite to
prescribing policy actions.
3. POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS (for political purposes): to ensure that the nation adopts the
right policy to achieve the right goals.

 various approaches and methods of public policy studies

ex. Descriptive or prescriptive or normative
Public policies: defined in various ways by different persons.

 Public policy is whatever governments choose to do or not to do.

Governments do many things. They regulate conflict within society; they
organize society to carry on conflict with other societies; they distribute a
great variety of symbolic rewards and material services to members of the
society; and they extract money from society, most often in the form of taxes.
Thus, public policies may regulate behaviour, organize bureaucracies,
distribute benefits, or extract taxes--or all of these things at once. (Thomas

 Study of public policy-the description and explanation of the causes

and consequences of government activity. This focus involves a description of
the content of public policy; an analysis of the impact of social, economic, and
political forces on the content of public policy; an inquiry into the effect of
various institutional arrangements and political processes on public policy; and
an evaluation of the consequences of public policies on society, both intended
and unintended.
Definitions of Public Policy:

Thomas R. Dye
 What governments do, why they do it and what differences it makes.
Harold Laswell
 Projected program of goals, values and practices
David Easton
 The impacts of government activity
Austin Ranney
 A selected list of action or a declaration of intent
James Anderson
 A purposive course of action followed by an actor or set of actors in dealing with a problem or
matter of concern; An attempt to define and structure a rational basis for action or inaction
Ten uses of the term ‘policy’

1. As a label for a field of activity;

2. As an expression of general purpose or desired state of affairs;
3. As specific proposals;
4. As decisions of government;
5. As formal authorization;
6. As a programme;
7. As output;
8. As outcome;
9. As a theory or model;
10. As a process.
 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
 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.
 A major element of studying and teaching public policy is the reliance of
policy studies on a broad range of the social sciences.
Definition Author
The term public policy always refers Clarke E. Cochran, et al.
to the actions of government and the
intentions that determine those
Public policy is the outcome of the Clarke E. Cochran, et al.
struggle in government over who gets
Whatever governments choose to do Thomas Dye
or not to do.
Public policy consists of political Charles L. Cochran and Eloise F.
decisions for implementing programs Malone.
to achieve societal goals.
Stated most simply, public policy is B. Guy Peters.
the sum of government activities,
whether acting directly or through
agents, as it has an influence on the
life of citizens.
Selected Disciplines That Study Public Policy
Discipline Description Relationship to Some important
Public Policy journals
Political Science The study of political
relationships; that is, the
The political process is the
process through which
American Political Science
Review, American Journal of
study of the processes by policies are made and Political Science, Journal of
which societies seek to enforced. Politics, Policy, Political
allocate political power and Research Quarterly, Public
the benefits of such power, Opinion Quarterly

Sociology Sociology is the study of

social life, social change, and
Community and group
activities are an important
American Sociological
Review, Contemporary
the social causes and part of policy making, Sociology, Journal of
consequences of human because groups of people Sociology
behavior. Sociologists often form to make demands.
investigate the structure of
groups, organizations, and
societies, and how people
interact within these

Economics The study of the allocation of

resources in a community,
There are many economic
factors that influence public
American Economic Review,
Econometrica, Journal of
however defined. Economists policy, such as economic Applied Economics, Journal
study markets and growth, productivity, of Political Economy.
exchanges. Welfare employment, and the like. The
economists seek to tools of economics are often
understand the extent to used to promote policies or to
which an overall community’s explain why policies succeed
welfare can be maximized. or fail.
Selected Disciplines That Study Public Policy
Discipline Description Relationship to Some important
Public Policy journals
Public The study of the management
of government and nonprofit
The management of public
programs is an integral part
Public Administration Review,
Journal of Public
Administration organizations, including the of the policy process. PA Administration Research and
management of information, scholars study the motivation Theory
money, and personnel to of program implementers and
achieve goals developed targets and help research
through the democratic innovations to improve
process. service delivery.

Public Policy The study of what

governments choose to do or
We give this label to the
highly interdisciplinary study
Journal of Policy Analysis and
Management, Journal of
not to do, including studies of of the public policy process. Public Policy, Policy Studies
the policy process, policy Policy scholars develop Review, Policy Studies
implementation and impact, theories about how the policy Journal, Journal of Policy
and evaluation. process works and develop History
tools and methods to analyze
how policy is made and
Adam Smith wrote in the 'Wealth of Nations' that the government should restrict their
activities to:

1. Defence against foreign aggression.

2. Maintenance of internal peace and order.
3. Public development work.

But has been expanded to:

1. Providing economic infrastructure
2. Provision of various collective goods and services
3. Resolution and adjustment of group conflicts
4. Maintenance of competition
5. Protection of natural resources
6. Minimum access by individuals
7. Stabilization of the economy

Q: Why does the government intervene or not intervene,

and when to intervene, how, and to what extent?
-Market Failures
 Scope of public policies
 maintenance of social security and order
 regulation of behaviors and various aspects of people’s life
 crime control, custody and imprisonment of criminals, etc.
 diplomacy
 defense
 border control
 prevention and management of disaster
 flood control, disaster management of earthquake, tsunami, fire-fighting (especially in densely
populated area or country), etc.
(Scope of public policies --- continued from the previous page)

 maintenance of public health, public hygiene and sanitation prevention of infectious diseases
sewage disposal, etc.
 medical services
 construction and maintenance of social infrastructure
 management of production and distribution of staple food, including irrigation
 water supply (especially in urban area)
provision of public utility services, energy supply, transportation (mass transit),
telecommunications, etc.
 development of industry and economy
 livelihood assistance and other social welfare services
 education, science and technology (basic science or large scale project)
 employment services
 public housing
 pollution control
 environment conservation, including the protection of endangered species
 EXHAUSTIVE. But a good measure is Government Budget.
 Roles and Responsibilities and Functions of Government:

Q Why has the government grown?

Adolph Wagner’s “Law of Increasing State Activity”
Wagner's law states that "as the economy develops over time, the
activities and functions of the government increase".

1. In Progressive societies, the activities of the central and local government

increase on a regular basis.
2. The increase in government activities is both extensive and intensive.
3. The governments undertake new functions in the interest of the society.
4. The old and the new functions are performed more efficiently and completely
than before.
5. The purpose of the government activities is to meet the economic needs of the
6. The expansion & intensification of government function & activities lead to
increase in public expenditure.
7. Though Wagner studied the economic growth of Germany, it applies to other
countries to both developed and developing.
 Roles and Responsibilities and Functions of Government:
When, where, why, for what and how does the government (or governments) come into
the scene?

Need for public sector, especially where markets fail

Roles and responsibilities of the government
-differ among countries
-change in every country, with the general trend toward expansion over a long period
but swung back and forth in the last decades in the developed countries
(Christopher Pollitt, “Public sector, private sector-where would we be without a few
good stereotypes?” in The Essential Public manager)

Q Why has the government grown?

(Arye Hillman, “The Need for Government” in Public Finance and Public Policy,
 demand side influences on the growth of government: need for more and better
 supply of revenue leads to the growth of government: increasing revenue
 Political influences on growth of government: e.g. Military and Police expenditures
Why has the government grown?
(A. Hillman, “The Need for Government” in Public Finance and Public Policy

 demand-side influences on the growth of government

ex. public goods
social insurance and entitlements
demographics, health, and income transfers, and regulation

 supply of revenue leads to the growth of government

ex. Growth of the consumer base
women in the labour market
amenability of people to taxation: gaps in expectations of services and tolerance to be taxed
fiscal illusion: a concept that governments find it easy to raise tax revenues because of
consumer ignorance about the way the tax system works. E.g. Fiscal Drag
 Political influences in growth of government
ex. Majority voting
voting by women
voting by government bureaucrats
fiscal federalism and centralized government
Actors for Public policies: the various “Publics”

-public organizations
government (national, sub-national, local organizations
policy making organizations
regulatory organizations
service delivery organizations
research organizations
financial organizations
production or manufacturing organizations
-supra-national, international organizations, etc.
-non-governmental public organizations
-private organizations (non-profit and for-profit organizations)
 Reasoning and Justification of Government Involvement and Intervention
 Economics (Paul Samuelson, etc.)
“Private consumption goods”, “collective consumption goods” as goods “which all enjoy in common
in the sense that each individual’s consumption of such good leads to no subtraction from any other
individual’s consumption of that good.”
In today’s economics, goods and services are classified by “excludability” and “rivalry” of goods and
services. (Nature of these goods may change as a result of technological progress or other changes.)

- non-excludability: no one can be excluded from enjoying the good.

- non-rivalry: any number of consumers may enjoy without detracting from the enjoyment of

Classification of Goods services by “Excludability” and “Rivalry”

- rivalry and excludability: private goods
ex. Bread, shoes, haircut, etc.
- non-rivalry but excludability: club goods or toll goods
ex. Cable TV, private parks, etc.
- rivalry but non-excludability: common pool goods
ex. Public road and bridge, etc.
- non-rivalry and non-excludability: public goods and services
ex. Lighthouse, diplomacy, national defense, fire protection, flood control, etc.
Vincent Ostrom and Elionor Ostrom characterized public goods by “non-exclusion” and “jointness of
consumption or use” and compared private goods and public goods as follows.
Private Goods Public Goods
Relatively easy to measure quantity and quality Relatively difficult to measure quantity and quality

Can be consumed by only a single person Consumed jointly and simultaneously

by many people

Easy to exclude someone who doesn’t pay Difficult to exclude someone who doesn’t pay

Individual generally has a choice of consuming Individual generally has no choice as to

or not consuming or not

Individually generally has a choice as to kind and Individual generally has little or no choice as to kind
quality of goods and quality of goods

Payment of goods is closely related to demand Payment for goods is not closely related to demand
and consumption or consumption

Allocation decisions are made primarily by Allocation decisions are made primarily by political
market mechanism process

(V.Ostrom and E. Ostrom, “Public Goods and Puiblic Choices”, 1978)

Public Administration Problem (Christopher Hood, Administrative Analysis)
Case of River Mouth Problem (Disaster Control)
- jointness of consumption - voluntary collective provision
- non-excludability - voluntary provision by one or a few people
-indivisibility of consumption - coercion

Case of Water Supply Problem

- common pool resources and the “tragedy of the commons”
- limited resource and opportunistic behavior

Other Sources of Interdependence

- scale of provision or demand interdependence (peak demand problem)
- scale of operation interdependence (the number of customers, changes in the way of the
provisions of services and increase of cost.)

Public Administration Problem

- bigger scale tends to throw up more incompatible use problems. E.g. Tagum and Quezon City
- increasing wealth creates possibilities of new kinds of public or joint consumption services. Eg.
Parks, Cultural museums, PWD infrastructures
- social solidarity tends to decline as communities grow larger, richer and more heterogeneous,
and hence collective action approach to public goods is less likely to succeed.
Self-organized Governance Systems (Elionor Ostrom Governing the Commons)
= “commons”

Self-organized governance system for managing common pool natural resources (limited
 Design principles for stable local common pool resource management
1. Clearly defined boundaries
2. Rules regarding the appropriation and provision of common resources that are adapted
to local conditions
3. Collective-choice arrangements that allow ,most resource appropriators to participate in
the decision-making process
4. Effective monitoring by monitors who are part of or accountable to the appropriators
5. A scale of graduated sanctions for resource appropriator who violate community rules
6. Mechanisms of conflict resolution that are cheap and of easy access
7. Self-determination of the community recognized by higher-level authority
8. In the case of larger common-pool resources, organization in the form of multiple layers
of nested enterprise, with small local common pool resources at the base level.
 Public Law

“public authority”:
authority with coercive power
supported by enforcing authority and sanctions against the violation of rules or specific
order or decisions of the government

(Usually it is necessary to have a specific statutory basis for public authority with binding power.)
 Politics, Political Science, Public Administration
Government may make a public policy irrespective of economic theory but try to justify as a politically
justifiable decisions.
“Some argue that only goods or services that cannot be provided by markets should be provided by
governments. Others contend, however, that as government is the embodiment of the will of the
people expressed through the political process, there should be no limits to its scope.” (Owen Hughes,
Public Management and Administration p.21)

“Governments are command-based---they can force people to comply-----whereas markets are

voluntary. Also, every person in a society is subject to the state.
Both these points---universal membership and compulsion---make governments fundamentally
different from the private sector. Membership of a state is not usually a matter of choice, and the fact
that membership is compulsory gives the state a power of compulsion which other organizations do
not have.”

 Further Explanation by Scholars of Public Administration

- Distinction between private and public services (Norman Flynn, Public Sector Management pp.8-10)
- externalities
- way of finance
- ownership of facilities and services providers (no longer absolute, e.g. public-private partnerships)
- excludability