Term Paper: Policy Studies

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[. . .] For developing consistent policies, it is also important to relate them to general principles of evaluation. In order to develop policies with maximum possible output, tradeoffs between conflicting aspects have to be made. Such tradeoffs can often be made by means of a cost-benefit analysis.

The knowledge pertaining to policy analysis is primarily drawn from the social sciences. However, the knowledge necessary for effective policy analysis is not derived from any particular discipline of social science. It draws its problems from the realm of actions, rather than the questions asked by particular disciplines. (Duncan) This is the reason that the process of policy analysis involves various disciplines rather than a single logical subject. The disciplines considered while conducting a policy analysis might include economics, political science, philosophy, statistics and various other fields of study.

Policy environments:

Environment is one of the factors to be considered by the policy researchers, while conducting a policy analysis. Environments influence the policy process to a certain extent. It is therefore important for policy makers to view the policy process in terms of interrelated environments influencing the policy process. Considering the environmental factors minimizes the tendency considering the policy process as a unidirectional trend. In addition to this, considering the policy environments can help in identifying a wide range of different players who may try to manipulate the policy process.

The policy process can be viewed in terms of three interrelated functional environments including policy formation, policy implementation and finally policy evaluation. In the first environment i.e. policy formation, key players include legitimate policy makers such as the President, Congress, Governors etc. And some other non-governmental players who are capable of exercising their influence on policy makers. In such an environment, a policy can be a result of the interest of an influential governmental or non-governmental actor or a public concern and pressure. Traditionally, policies are formed in environments where a government legitimizes a decision. However, policies can be devised in other environments as well.

As far as the matter of policy implementation is concerned, the environment pertaining to it is different from that of policy formulation. The players of this environment differ depending on the nature of the policy under consideration. Even though, the directives of the policy makers dictate the players in the policy implementation environment, the policy process is also influenced by the opinions of the players in the second environment. Hence implementation of the policy depends on the constitution and interaction of the players as well as on the conditions of the environment.

Finally, the evaluation of policy might include players from policy formulation environment as well as from policy implementation. There is also a possibility of including some other players, who have no previous connection with the policy process but this might be done primarily to change the facts relating to the outcome of the policies.

Policy Linkages:

As discussed before, different policy environments are interrelated to each other and the participants or players of one environment can also perform in another environment. It is therefore observed that communication and compliance linkages are formed between the players of different environments, which helps in tying the policy system together. In a policy system, it is important to form a consistent communication linkage in order to ensure an implementation of policy. As pointed out by researchers, the primary concern for effective implementation is that those who are responsible for the execution of a certain decision must know what they are expected to do. Hence, orders received by the executor must be comprehensible and precise.

Although, policy makers are aware of the communication constraints that exist in a policy system and take preventive measures to reduce their effect, several mishaps can still occur. This can be a result of a confusing message sent by instructor, misconception of the receiver, and breakdown in the communication mechanism or poor follow-through.

Policy influencers:

The policy process is not only influenced by the decisions of the governmental players but also by powerful non-governmental players. Private interest groups are actively involved in the process of public policy making they work closely with government legislatures to formulate policies, which are mutually acceptable to both and are beneficial for the society at large. "Issue networks" including members of legislative bodies, bureaucratic agencies and groups that are most affected by the policies exercise considerable level of influence over many policy areas. In fact, strong interest groups are associates in the policy-making circles. The size, leadership and resources of these interest groups are increasingly diverse. Those who have considerable financial resources, strong leadership and excellent reputation exercise considerable influence over the policy makers. Another important factor is the number of members represented by the group, as its political strength is further enhanced if represents a large population of voters.

On the other hand, an interest group with a few members but with a good deal of influence is a business organization of a few hundred corporate executives. Although, such groups represent very few members but the wealth that it represents brings it in a position to effectively exercise its influence in different policy matters.

Policy Model:

Researchers have defined the term model in several different ways. Some of them are presented below:

model....is a representation of reality; it delineates certain aspects of the real world as being relevant to the problem under investigation, it makes explicit the significant relationships among the aspects and it enables the formulation of empirically testable propositions regarding the nature of these relationships." (McCool)

Another definition describing the policy model is:

policy model shows how and to what extent, public policy alternatives cause outcomes that can be described by one or more value concepts." (McCool)

Policy processes & U.S. healthcare industry:

The healthcare industry of the United States is most affected by government's policymaking process. Several health care regulations passed by the government in the past few years have significantly influenced the industry practices. All the above factors identified for the policy process are also applicable to the healthcare industry in the U.S. The policies devised for the healthcare are influenced by several no governmental players, are formulated by governmental legislatures, implemented by certain players and finally these policies are evaluated in terms of their outcomes. Policy linkages such as the communication linkages are also important for successful implementation of healthcare policies and several precautionary measures should be taken in order to avoid any pitfalls.


Daniel Mc Cool: The Theoretical Foundation of Policy Studies: Prentice Hall Press

Macrae Duncan: Policy Analysis for public decisions: Rowman and Littlefield Publishing Group Inc., 1985

Clarke E. Cochran: American Public Policy: An Introduction: Wadsworth Pub Co: August 1998

Van Horne, Carle E: Politics and Public Policy: CQ Press.

Policy Studies [END OF PREVIEW]

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