Thinking Outside the Box? Applying Design Theory to Public Policy

Authored by: Mark Considine

Routledge Handbook of Policy Design

Print publication date:  July  2018
Online publication date:  July  2018

Print ISBN: 9780815369189
eBook ISBN: 9781351252928
Adobe ISBN:


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Design involves an account of expertise that foregrounds implicit, heuristic skills. Most models of policymaking have a stronger interest in structural and exogenous pressures on decision-making. Research suggests that high-level experts develop unique capacities to process data, read a situation and see imaginative solutions. By linking some of the key attributes of a design model of decision-making to an account of expertise, it is possible to formulate a stronger model of public policy design expertise. While other approaches often concern themselves with constraints and structural imperatives, a design approach has a focus on the capacities of individual actors such as policy experts. Such an approach rests upon central propositions in regard to goal emergence, pattern recognition, anticipation, emotions engagement, fabulation, playfulness and risk protection. These provide a starting point for further research and for the professional development of policy specialists.

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