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Public Policy Analysis

The strength of this framework lies in that it takes into consideration, all the actors at play, and their mutual dynamics, in a given policy situation. The shortcomings in the prevailing, stages heuristic theory, the problems with both “top-down and bottom-up approaches”, and the lacunae in the existing theories with respect to “scientific and technical information” had prompted the birth of the Advocacy Coalition Framework (Weible, Sabatier and McQueen, 122). This theory has looked at policy change as an attribute of several factors, namely, science and technology, time span, “policy subsystems”, and individual “beliefs” (Weible, Sabatier and McQueen, 122). It is the collective action of different advocacy groups that form into a temporary coalition on a specific issue (even if these groups differ among them on other issues) that is projected as a catalyst for policy change, according to this theory (Birkland, 300). Both the subsystem events and changes in the external policy environment have been viewed by this framework as to cause policy change (Weible, Sabatier and McQueen, 123-4). ...
The basic notion of this theory has been that “individuals- acting alone, or within organizations- are utility-maximizing, rational individuals who are goal-oriented and use near-perfect information to weigh a range of options before adopting the optimal choice based on their calculation of costs and benefits” (Birkland, 302). This is a rule-based framework (where rules are implicit rather than binding), where policy changes are determined by “encompassing efficiency, equity, accountability, “conformance to general morality”, (…), and adaptability” (Birkland, 304). From this theoretical perspective, the actors who bring about policy change are acting either “as individuals or as groups functioning as a corporate actor” (Warne, 20). This theory has also envisaged a three tier process of policy creation/change, the tiers being, “operational tier (…) collective tier (…) (and) constitutional tier” (Warne, 20-21). My personal experiences and understanding of public policy suggest that the Advocacy Coalition Framework has succeeded in identifying the wider and specific aspects of policy making and integrating them beautifully, but it has failed to notice that all negotiations can happen only within the given legal and moral realm. On the other hand, the theory of Institutional Rational Choice has stressed the universal aspect of a policy choice. It has been successful in incorporating the coalition element of the Advocacy Coalition Framework, as one among its three tier model and has thus went beyond the Advocacy Coalition Framework to put forth a more comprehensive theoretical model. But all the same, the Institutional ...Show more

Summary

The Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF) developed by Sabatier and Jenkins-Smith’s (1993) and the Institutional Rational Choice theory formulated by Ostrom (1990, 1999) are two theories that are discussed by Birkland (298, 302). These theories provide comprehensive frame works to understand policy change (Birkland, 298, 302-319)…
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Public Policy Analysis essay example
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