Public Policy ; An Introduction

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Chapter 1

Policy Science and Political Science Policy Science and its Ambitions

The policy science is a relative newly discipline which is born from the roots of multidisciplinary science, the background the birth of policy science are triggered by the gap between the political theory and the political practice .Scientist are Impel of a search for a new method on how’s to merge the theory of politics and the empirical work of politic in practical manner.

In the beginning of the century political scholar found that the traditional political science had to encompassing it reach and capable of answering the question the practical manner of politic science(what government actually do?), Harold Lasswel came up with his work that stated that political science are relates to the task of replacing traditional policy science and reconcile the political theory and political practice without becoming to sterile and to formal, Lasswel add that there are three characteristic of policy science; Multi-disciplinary, Problem –solving, and Explicitly normative.

On the way of its development many scholar had thought that policy science are always tend to embrace the value of ‘explicitly normative’ which its changed over time, those early works of Lasswel and its follower are essentially worth thats made the basic foundation of Public Policy Study.

Definition of Public Policy

There are many variations of definition in public policy, some of it will mentioned to describe the definitions of Public Policy, Thomas Dye Defines Public Policy as ‘Whatever government choose to do or not to do’, while William Jenkins made a little bit precise definition of public policy rather that stated by Thomas Dye, Jenkis defines that Public Policy is ‘a set of interrelated decisions taken by political actor or group of actors concerning the selection of goals and the means of achieving them within specific situation where those decisions should, in principle, be within the power of those actor to achieve. James Anderson proposed a definition of Public Policy which is more generic, He defines that Public Policy ‘as a purposive course of action followed by an actor or a set of actor dealing with a problem or matter of concern.

Those Definitions are emerge respectively and provide their on perspective how’s the Public Policy deal with the coherence condition of political theory that breaks in the term of practical manner politic. Public Policy not literally seen as a document or government task, or what governments actually do. Public Policy are deals with a set of choice or decisions that made by an actor or group dealing with consequences of its actions.

Understanding Public Policy

From the point of understanding Public policy comes with an explanation that Public policy are often approaches by several ways on its understanding, Some scholar are prefer to examining the nature of political regime by public policy on a matter that public policy are focuses on organization that explain how’s the organization political systems. Another way to approaches Public Policy are whether Public policies are determined by the Macro level socio-economic factors, or by Micro level behavioral element. These approaches are based on the assumption that Policies are tend to fail in developing argument on their roots context (sectoral and temporal context).

The development of Approaches in understanding Public Policy are expand in more wide range since Theodore lowi proposed that the nature of policy problem and the solutions is often determine by how it will be processed by the political systems, this approaches often calls as the Understanding Public Policy by it content, James Wilson, Lester salamon and the rest of follower of this approaches argued that focusing on policy tools or instrument to implement public policies are the best mode of analysis for understanding Public policy.

The Policy content theory facing a broader vision by the tradition concentrates on policy impact or outcomes, this approaches works in different organizations that tends to have different interest in pursuing policy analysis such as government, groups and corporations, those organizations are widely have a different interest but concurrently give the same attention on policy outcomes.

A Problem solving Model of the Policy Process.

There are simple way in simplifying the complexity of Public policy process, Harold Lasswel earliest model of Public Policy making process which consist of several stages takes lead as the basic model which latter developed by Gary Brewer in the 1970s,The model of Lasswel Public Policy process as an Applied problem solving expanded by Brewer model’s which it introduced the notion of the policy Cycles, The Stages in Policy cycles and its relates to the Applied Problem solving Model process depicted in figure 1

Figure 1

Five stages of the Policy Cycles and it relations in Applied Problem Solving Stages In Policy Cycle

Phases of Applied problem solving

  • Agenda Setting
  • Problem Recognition
  • Policy Formulation
  • Proposal of solution
  • Decision Making
  • Choice of Solution
  • Policy Implementation
  • Putting Solution into effect
  • Policy Evaluation
  • Monitoring results

The essence of Policy cycle model are to simplified the complexity of breaking down the Public policy making process into a moderate stages, this stages act independently as an research object, but also relates in term of its relationship to any or all stages in Policy cycles.

The Future of Improved Model of Policy Cycles

Towards of improved model of Policy cycles are determined as the main factor to recognize the context of societal, state, political, economic, institutional and Ideological which embosom the policy process and what interest surroundings.

Those stages of policy cycles tend to answer a set of distinct question of actors, institutions, instruments and discourses along the lines of Public Policy making process. By focusing each stage of policy cycles and merge the variable upon it, it will lead to a new taxonomy of political with relevance in a broader vision of public policy that relates not the governmental scope only.

Chapter 2

Approaches to Public Policy.

The Various approaches in Public policy made not an easy way to entering the study of Public policy, originating in numerous academic thought lead us to the main economic and political approaches which focused in the form of deductive and inductive theory and their characteristic basic unit of analysis. Depicted in figure2.

Figure 2.A taxonomy of general Approaches to Political Phenomena.

Fundamental Unit Analysis
	Individual	Group	Institutions
Method of
Construction	Deductive	Public Choice	Marxism	Neo-Institutionalism
	Inductive	Welfare Economics	Pluralism/
Corporatism	Statism

Deductive Theories

Public Choice

The Public choice approaches based on mainly perspective that Individual plays as the Political actors that guide by personal preferences (self –interest) on the Policy making process, this symptom modeled by the bureaucrats behavior which tend to maximize their personal utility as results of its self –interest.

Public policy making in a manner of public choice expected to limit the utility maximization that conduct by the self interest of individual which affect the entire society. The essence of utility Maximization is a potential candidate of hazard if it put in a term of Public Policy making process. Furthermore this approaches also facing a numerous critics that focused on the empirical dimension.

Class Theory.

The collective entity on this approaches are plays as the units analysis in the group theory/class theory, the only things that matter is that the units analysis is defined in a ‘Objective’ terms .

Karl Marx plays a major role in the study of Class theory, his work of Manifesto Of the Communist party constitute the argument that society are divide into dichotomous class which consist of the Ruling class (the owner of mode of production) and the oppressed class (those who have to work for the owns of mode of production), relation between this two class are inherently conflictual.

The conflictual relation between two class reflect on the Public Policy Making Process, Class theories describe that the capitalist societies (The Ruling Class) ruled the state as a result of accumulation of capital that hold by the ruling class. State are the device to maintain a domination by the ruling class to establish the capitalist system which lead to gathering of abundant capital.

The Class theory stated that Public Policy in this perspective serve the interest of the ruling class, despite demonstrate the lord of Public Policy are the Capitalist, this theory are faces a major challenge that stated a comprehensive critics on the consistency that relates to its understanding of ‘class’, moreover the moderation of political and social phenomena to an economic based approaches by the Neo-Marxist always bring them to a situation which they can avoid the Economic determinism.

Neo-Institutionalism (New Economics of organization)

The third deductive approach are the Neo-institutionalism which limit the role of individual and groups based theory corresponded to the Political phenomena. When the Neo-institutionalist refer to Public policy they figure a institutional structure as a building blocks from the social and political life, the institution are an Autonomous structure which provide political actors a set of consistent behavior rules, conceptions, to perform that Public Policy is based on the policy references by society which embedded by the Institution.

The market Mechanism seem take a major part in this approaches, Institution as the building block separates the accuracy of information of a perfect ‘market’ transaction that leads to the asymmetry of information, this phenomena takes Public Policy to an dead ends of perfect market mechanism.

Inductive Theories

Welfare Economics.

The approaches of welfare economics assumed that the failure of the market to provide the social welfare of the society initiate the political instrument as a replacement to substitute the market failure, those market failure exist in the form of; natural monopoly, imperfect information, the presence of externalities, the tragedy of commons and the destructive competition.

Based on the failure of the market, government takes a major role in determine Public policy as a set of tools that comprehended social problems that occurs by the results of market failure. State also recognized as a effective tools to faced and solved problems in effective manner, thus approaches comprehended as the Cost – Benefit analysis, this analysis give more concentration on the process of achieving goals by the same output for less input, or more output for the same input.

On the critics of these theories brings us to a perception that market failure also brings the Government disability to fix the market failure, on that circumstances market failure give the opportunity of Government failure. In that case the government should evaluate their capacity to examine the market before they envisioned fixing the market failure.

According to the Welfare economics theory the main task of the government are to provide a set of rule of law which covers the basic property rights and the prevention of criminal behavior, this leads us to a general understanding that government are the main provider of Public Goods, while the task of providing the Private Goods and services are taken care by the market mechanism.


Pluralism approaches assumed that Public Policies are the result of competition and collaboration among groups interest, those groups interest are reconciled and regulate the society, while the society are the member of any particular groups., The way of Public Policies live among the society are quite unclear since the government role comprehended as a ‘referee’ by the Pluralist theory.

The Perspective of Pluralist theory originating in the USA, which made the applicability of this perspective unmatched with the political institution and process besides USA, The Europe seems take another perspective while they comprehended groups as their unit analysis, they Used the term of Corporatism while countering the Pluralist theory.

Corporatism theory are try to provide the protections of an autonomous intermediate strata/ associations between the state and the family. This perspective gives autonomous decisions to its member while it comes to deliver Public Policies.

Public Policy formed as a results of interaction between the interest groups and the state, the government delivers a medium place for its society to take an active parts of decision making process. The process definite the society as self regulating society which mediate by the government. Statism

The autonomous role of the Government are take a major critics by the follower of the Statism theory, this theory leads us to understanding the strong role of the state which it can forced the used of power to re-order the structure social relation and institutions.

The Germany Sociologist Max Webber belief that states is an autonomous actor which has it own objective and dominate by a certain ethics to deliver a Policy making process by its domination. The Statism advocators recognize that ‘State centric’ replace the ‘Society centric’ on the corporatism theory on the explanation of political life.


We may believe that booth Deductive and Inductive theory give their perspective by it limitation and it nature, but the main essence that we can achieve in understanding Public Policy are on its analytical framework that allowed us to broaden our view by examining the wide range factor that affecting Public Policy, thus the hypotheses are to be tasted by an empirical analysis which leads to the development on the theory it self.


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Tentang Penulis

Rachmat Hidayat Rachmat Hidayat : Staf Pengajar Departemen Administrasi Publik Fisip Universitas Jember


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18 Juni 2007