The Contexts and Components of Policy Design

Governance Modes and Policy Regimes

Authored by: Michael Howlett

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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Policy goals and means exist at different levels of abstraction and application, and policies are comprised of a number of components or elements. Policy instrument choices can thus be seen to result from a nested or embedded relationship within a larger framework of established governance modes and policy regime logics. Successful policy design requires that policy aims, objectives and targets be coherent; that implementation preferences, policy tools and tool calibrations be consistent; and that the aims and tools be congruent and convergent. In this contextual model, the range of choices left at the level of concrete, targeted policy instrument calibrations—the typical subject of policy tool analysis—is restricted by the kinds of decisions made about policy objectives and the appropriate tools to attain them. Both of these, in turn, are restricted by the kind of choices made at the highest level, setting out general policy aims and implementation preferences. Policy designs and designers should be aware of these different contexts and constraints in developing and putting policies into place.

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