Introduction to Public Policy

Introduction to Public Policy
Dr. Upul Abeyrathne
Department of Economics,
University of Ruhuna,
Relationship Between Public Policy and
• The pioneers have distinguished between
policy and policy implementation.
• Policy is a matter of value selection, a power
• Policy implementation is technical.
Meaning of Public Policy
• “What Government do, why they do it and
what difference it makes” (Thomas R. Dye
,1998, Understanding Public Policy)
• “A projected program of goals, values, and
practice” (Harold Lasswell, 1979, Politics and
economics of Public Policy)
• “ A selected line of action or declaration of
intent” (cited in David Easton, 1965, A system
analysis of political life)
Meaning of Public Policy
• A purposive course of action followed by an
an actor or set of actors in dealing with a
problem or matter of concerned.”(Anderson,
1997, Public Policy Making )
• All of the above definition speaks of 1. A
series of action 2. Public problem either real
or perceived
• They are the outcome of deleberation of
political authorities
Meaning of Public Policy
• The public policies are subject to be changed
on account of better information. This
highlights the cyclic dimension.
What does not grasp in the Above
1. Past dimension
2. Present Dimension
3. Future Dimension
Features of Public Policies
1. Goal oriented
2. Are outcomes of Government’s collective
3. Public policies depict the relationship a part
of political system maintain with its specific
4. Public policies may either be positive or
negative (Action or inaction)
Policy and decisions
• Policy is also a decision but it is more than a
decision. It is broader.
• The core of a decision making is to make a choice
from the alternative available in order to take an
• Programmed and non-Programed decision
• Public Policies are broad directions that
government lays down in order to take decisions .
Policy involves a series of decisions
Characteristics of Policy Making
• It is a complex process (Many actors connected
through communication and feed back, some
forces are observable. Some are hidden)
• It is a dynamic process (It is a continuing activity
for sustenance within a structure. It requires
continuous inputs of resources and motivation.)
• Policy Making Comprises various components
Characteristics of Policy Making
Policy Structures make different contribution
Policy making is a species of decision making
Lays down major guidelines
Results in Actions
Directed at Future
Formulated by competent authority
Aims at public interests
Policy Analysis
• “Description and explanation of the causes and
consequences of governmental activity” (Thomas
He is in the opinion that public policy analysis
should aimed at explanation rather than
Accordingly the role of policy analyst is to attempt
at developing and testing general propositions
about the causes and consequence of public
policy and to accumulate reliable research
findings of general relevance.
Policy Analysis
• Some people like Grover Starling differs from
the foregoing view. They think that policy
study is interdisciplinary and should aim at
facilitating to reach sound policy decisions.
Types of Public Policies
• Substantive : They are concerned with general
welfare and development of the society. They
do not relate to any specific segment of
• Regulatory: There are sectors that need to be
regulated to meet the requirments of public
Types of Public Policies
• Distributive : They are meant for specific segment
of society. Health, education and poverty
alleviation are some important areas in this
• Redistributive : Is concerned with fundamental
re-arrangement of policies to make changes in
the sphere of social and economic. It aims at
avoiding disproportionate distribution of wealth
and income.
Types of Public Policies
• Capitalization Policies: Some times,
government give subsidies to individuals and
companies and they make no provision for
public welfare.
Scope of Public Policy
• It is dependent on the role assumed by the
• Even in this globalized capitalist minimal state,
government has some inalienable duties (E.G.
Husbandry and Midwifery Role etc)
Two important Key Worlds
• None –programmed Decisions: Herbert A
Simon distinguishes between Programmed
and non-progrmmed Decisions. NonProgramme decision are new, novel and not
structured. There is no ready made guidelines
to make such decisions. They require
innovation and creativity
• Programmed Decisions: Have take according
to the prescribed manner. They are routine.

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