NATURE OF PUBLIC POLICY

The concept of Policy
It may take the form of:  A declaration of goals;  A declaration of course of action;  A declaration of general purpose; and  An authoritative decision.

Uses of the term “Policy”(Hogwood and Gunn):
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

6.
7. 8. 9. 10.

As a label for field of activity; As an expression of desired state of affairs; As specific proposals; As decisions of government; As formal authorization; As a programme; As output; As outcome; As a theory or model; As a process.

Dror defines policies as.. “.Y..” Similarly..” . Peter Self defines policies as. “..general directives on the main lines of action to be followed.changing directives as to how tasks should be interpreted and performed.

” . coherence and continuity to the courses of action for which the decision making body is responsible.”policies are decisions giving direction..To Sir Geoffrey Vickers… .

. or government within a given environment providing obstacles and opportunities which the policy was proposed to utilize and overcome in an effort to reach a goal or realize an objective or a purpose. “…a proposed course of action.Carl Friedrich regards policy as.” . group.

” .James Anderson suggests that… …”policy be regarded as a purposive course of action followed by an actor or set of actors in dealing with a problem or matter of concern.

” .Taken as a whole… “policy may be defined as a purposive course of action taken or adopted by those in power in pursuit of certain goals or objectives.

The following are the traditional views regarding the nature of public policy… .

1. which narrows the scope and limits the range of public policy makers. WOODROW WILSON “public policy is the laws and regulations which are made by legislative statesmen and implemented by public administration personnel” This definition is characterized by the “dichotomy between politics and administration”. .

those who participate in the making of public policy include not only statesmen. First. but also government‟s plans. experts and scholars.  Secondly. decisions and other symbolic systems. public policy includes not only laws and regulations. . instructions. but also representatives of citizens.

2. HAROLD LASSWELL & ABRAHAM KAPLAN (1970) …a projected program of goals. regulations. making the latter seem overly extensive. and other symbolic systems that government sends out. decisions.  . values and practices.”  The aforementioned definition confuses public policy with programs. A program can be public policy. but not all policy are programs. As has been pointed out. public policy also includes instructions. laws.

.”  Character of behavioralism reflects the practical discipline quality of public policy analysis. DYE (1987) “Public policy is whatever governments choose to do or not to do. THOMAS R.  “Action” means that government takes measure or uses symbols openly in order to solve some public problem.  “Inaction” means that government does not take measures or express active symbols.  Both are important solutions to public problems. abiding by the principle of noninterference.3.

ROBERT EYESTONE(1971) “. namely P = F(G..public policy is the relationship between governmental organs and their environment. Public policy is the function of governmental system and its living environment. .E) (P refers to public policy.4. and E refers to the living environment). G refers to governmental system.” It is evident that Eyestone is influenced by the science of ecological administration.

“the nature of policy is that some things are owned by some people but not by others. DAVID EASTON (1953) Defines public policy as the “authoritative allocation of values for the whole society. There are however attendant concerns regarding this viewpoint.” This view points out the values of allocation function of public policy. .” Furthermore.5.

the values „for the whole society‟ are public interests. Interest are all the resources and conditions which are necessary for the survival. At the same time. development. freedom. As a matter of fact. such as capital. . and happiness of people. values involve not only tangible matters. but also intangible matters. values can be understood as all objects having utility for subjects.First. As a philosophic concept. “values” are the function and utility of object for subject. what are values? According to Easton.

There are victims but not beneficiaries. the nature of policy results not only in beneficiaries. There are beneficiaries but not victims. b. does the allocation of objects of value or interest presume making alternatives? According to Easton.Second. . There are both beneficiaries and victims. but also victims. There can be three situations in the values of allocation of public policy: a. c.

values are things that are valuable for people. Therefore.Third. there are too many things that have utility for people. including natural values and human values. not all values in society can be allocated by public policy. public policy can allocate human values but not natural values. can all values in society be allocated? According to David Easton. Yet. . Generally speaking.

Finally. espouses three economic functions of the government.Allocation (of income) . does public policy only have the function of allocation? Richard Musgrave. .Redistribution (of resources) . like David Easton.Stabilizing the economy (maintaining a full employment economy) .

besides the functions of allocating social values or public interests.”  By this definition. to promote and allocate the public interest of society. “Public policy is the behavioral norms made by government (in pursuit of its goal. public policy not only needs to allocate values. believes. but also bears the function and mission of promoting or producing values. Chen Qingyun. a professor at Peking University. . public policy has the function of producing. at any given time). exchanging and consuming public interest. In other words.

It is supply of public goods that is the calling of government. and public infrastructure by implementing public policy. direct and indirect allowances. Government directly produces such public goods and services as national defense. legal mechanisms. credit activities and supply of public service.1. environmental protection. The function of production (Joseph E. public order. . Stiglitz) The government itself directly participates in production when it influences private production through the legal system.

. each process of social intercourse can be looked at as an exchange of resources between people. The basic and most crucial distinction is that social exchange entails unspecified obligations. The function of exchange According to Peter Blau‟s theory of social exchange. there is social exchange among governments as there is among individual groups. Social exchange differs in important ways from strictly economic exchange. “Social exchange refers to voluntary actions of individuals that are motivated by the returns they are expected to bring from others.” Indeed.2.

. reduce the legitimacy of the political system. The function consumption In reality. allocation and exchange functions of public policy. the government can appropriate and consume public interest which were originally meant to be shared by the public. public policy has a negative consumption function. besides the three positive functions mentioned above. The government has to limit the negative self-consumption function of public policy by constructing systems.3. a democratic credo. and even destroy the production. It can lead to political disorder. or transparent policies. However.

A problem is the deviation between „is‟ and „ought‟ or the difference between the existing state and the expected state of a system. values. In other words public problems are the cause and reason of public policy. given the public nature of the former. the fundamental value of policy lies in the effective and timely solution of public problems. As an output of political system. Public policy should reflect the public will. knowledge and convention. Problems are defined in accordance with individual interests.Public Problems as Reasons for Public Policy Public policy and private policy differ. .

and adjustment for the symmetry between income and cost of problem. . Its beneficiaries and victims are specified and limited. an individual has adequate initiative to maximize his or her interests without any exterior regulation. In private affairs. supervision.A private problem is one where the cost and income only influence a single individual or a limited number of people.

the public must have the intention to resort to government.A public problem is a problem which influences the whole society and is socially-shared. The public must take action to press government to bring the public problem into its policy agenda. . But intention is not action. which is the public sector for the whole society. After recognition of the problem‟s existence.

undermining its own legitimacy. Even if its not democratic. otherwise. . government wisely brings the public problem into its policy agenda.Action can be taken under the following conditions:    A strong civil society makes the public dare to mobilize and appeal to government. A receptive democratic government is willing to listen to the voice of the public. social turbulence may ensue.

meaning that there is a shortage of resources and lack of courage. which are necessary for a public appeal to government. Even if it is democratic. or rather is “the broker of specific interest”. An autocratic government can neglect social needs.A public problem that is not addressed by government may result from the following:    Civil society is weak. government has its own interests. .

1. Rather. Reducing subjective difference (Reducing or diverting public expectation and mitigating public dissatisfaction. nor does it adjust social interest relations.) Government neither takes action aimed at the solution of the public problem.Public policy can solve public problems in two ways: reducing subjective and objective indifference. it uses propaganda machines to make the public feel as though “the problem is not as serious as we thought and will be solved in a very near future. .”.

. public policy should turn to the complete solution of public problems without hesitation. After mitigating the public problems temporarily and superficially by reducing the subjective difference of the public.All public problems result from competing interests. Contradictions accumulate until social turbulence. thereby increasing the likelihood of revolution. Public policy‟s interest and process-natures vitiate government‟s attempt to avoid solving public problems by reducing subjective difference. by reducing objective difference.

and prediction analysis. government can choose to produce. In so doing. matrix analysis. At the same time. . allocation and exchange of public interests. allocate or exchange public interests.2. Reducing objective difference Public policy directly accepts the challenge of public problems and focuses on the adjustment of social interest relations. judgment by intuition. the negative consumption function of public policy must be guarded and restrained. Government can predict the problems and trends that may appear during a long period through some methods-for instance the historical analytic approach. public policy can reduce objective difference and achieve a solution to public problems. Through the production.

therefore. Public policy can directly adjust social interest relations to reduce objective difference by exercising three positive functions: production. is government. allocation. and government takes its own interests and public interests into consideration as it chooses to reduce objective or subjective difference in order to solve public problems effectively and expeditiously.CONCLUSION: Public policy has the power to reduce subjective or objective difference in order to bring solutions to public problems. and exchange of public interest. The nature of public policy. However. it also has the option of setting public interests aside and merely mitigating public dissatisfaction by reducing or diverting public expectation to reduce subjective difference. Furthermore. . government must guard and restrain public policy‟s inherent negative consumption function of public interests.