Bounded rationality and public policy decision-making

Authored by: Bryan D. Jones , H.F. Thomas

Routledge Handbook of Public Policy

Print publication date:  November  2012
Online publication date:  December  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415782456
eBook ISBN: 9780203097571
Adobe ISBN: 9781136223259


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Underlying most approaches to the study of policy processes is a model of human choice. 1 This model rests upon critical aspects of the cognitive and emotional architectures of decision-makers. The particular aspects of human psychology that informs the major approaches in policy studies differ, but all share the common focus of requiring some assumptions about human nature. The Advocacy Coalition Framework is based on an analysis of the attitudes, beliefs and values of coalition participants. Punctuated Equilibrium Theory is based on shifts in the focus of collective attention, which requires an individual choice model based on attention and short-term memory. The Institutional Analysis and Development Framework centers on rational action by strategic actors, but with an understanding of the limits of full rationality and a focus on the abilities of citizens in smaller associations to focus on collective rather than individual benefits. In each case, some elements of cognitive processing beyond the maximization of goals assumed in the model of instrumental rationality, which is used in economics and in public choice and neo-institutional analyses in political science, are present.

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