Theories and Models of Public Policy

Public policy is a plan formulated and implemented for the benefit of the public. The policy relates to the action that the government intends to take to serve the interests of the public. From the above description, it is clear that public policy is the entire framework that highlights the actions the government undertakes in the attainment of its goals. A public policy should be purposive and consistent action developed in response to the perceived problem. It can be considered as the authoritative declaration of the intentions of the government on what it seeks to door not to do (Hahn,1987). The success of public administration is connected to the success of its overall public policy. Public policies are products of a fluid process that entails negotiation, bargaining, and accommodation of interests from different groups. The process of policymaking is a complex dynamic process that involves a number of actions and inactions from different groups with a variety of interests at different stages (Osman, 2002). Different models and theories have been proposed to describe the process of public policy making and implementation. This paper will compare and contrast the theories and models of public policy and highlight their influences on the public policy and the policy-making process.

Institutional Model

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In this model, some institutions are viewed as having the capability of determining the public policy objective and influencing the entire public policy-making process. These institutions are assigned the tasks based on democratic participation, bureaucratic specification, and judicial adjunction. The functions carried out by these institutions are the critical determining factors to implement different policies. The model also prescribes the nature of the relationship between different institutions and indicates how they should work together and collectively in an effort to achieve a successful policy implementation. Under this model, the attention is given to the structures, duties, and functions of the vital government institutions (Cochran & Malone, 2005). One important example of policy under this model is the organization chart. Virtually, the organization chart is critical in describing the respective government agency that is responsible for different tasks, the line of authority involved, and accountability expected. The National Rifle Association is an example of an interest group whose general interest is opposed to the general prevailing public opinion.

Systems Theory

The systems theory puts emphasis on the nature of the environment of the political systems, its inputs, and outputs. This is achieved by indicating the needs, demands, and support of one side with the accompanying public policies and feedback on the other end (Anyebe, 2018). The model is considered to be beneficial in the counteracting the basic assumption common in the descriptive analysis of the political system as though they were self-contained. This common error is experienced at the local level.The model prescribes a political system comprised of interrelated structures and processes with power and authority to allocate resources to the general community (Anyebe, 2018). Along with that, the model believes that the components of the political system are connected, and can respond to the forces in the environment. Just like in the group model, the success of the systems model depends on the strong support for the system. The system also may be implemented using threats or force.

Group Model

This model indicates that public policy results from a system of forces and pressures working on and against each other. This is most evident with how the legislature and the executive are pressurized by interest groups. This affects the policy-making process where government agencies may find themselves captives of the same groups that they are supposed to regulate. Such a situation causes instances where the administrators are unable to differentiate between the policies whose impact will benefit the public and with those that will only be beneficial to the groups under regulation. Unlike the institution model where politics is affected by the flow of authority, in the group model, the interaction process of different groups is a critical element of politics. The groups are comprised of the individuals with common interest and they act as a bridge between the individual and the government. Under this model, the policymakers respond to the group pressure by engaging in acts of bargaining, negotiations, and compromising of varied competing demands (Cochran & Malone, 2005). In this model, the overall system is comprised of a latent group that supports the rules being proposed.There is an overlapping group membership, which ensures that the groups are within the limits of the political mainstream, and has mechanisms of ensuring checks and balances on the nature of competition between the groups. This is evident in different policies supported by either Democrats or Republicans. The Democrats support policies such as universal healthcare, allowing immigrants, support government regulations, and legalizing of abortion. On the other hand, the Republicans support policies such as private healthcare, against amnesty for undocumented immigrants, opposed to government regulation on trade, and are against legalizing of abortion. 

Elite-Mass Model

This model is comprised of a policy-making elite and operates in an environment comprised of apathy and misrepresentation of information in an effort to govern mass, largely made up of passive people. Here, policy originates from the elite and flows to the people. This is unlike the group model, where the group made up of a mass of individuals initiates the policies. The society here is split into those with power and those without (López, 2013). The impact of this model on policies is that the models developed to represent the values of the elite and their desired structures meant to maintain their status quo.The elites determine matters affecting the state. The mass is pathetic and with limited information, which makes it subject to manipulation by the elite. The mass only enjoys indirect influence. A key feature of this model is the democratic popular election, which acts as a mechanism of connecting the mass to a system through their preferred political party and occasional voting (López, 2013). While the policies may shift incrementally, the conservative nature of the elite ensures that the basic system remains unchanged. The housing policies are examples of policies that follow this model. The 2010 Citizens United ruling can be noted as another example of policy under this model as it allowed corporation and wealthy people to fund elections with unlimited funds thereby granting them a chance of safeguarding their interests.  

References

Anyebe, A. (2018). An Overview of Approaches to the Study of Public Policy. International Journal of Political Science, 8-17.

Cochran, C. L., & Malone, E. F. (2005). Public policy: Perspectives and choices. Lynne Rienner.

Hahn, A. J. (1987). Policymaking models and their role in policy education.

López, M. (2013). The state of poverty: elite perceptions of the poor in Brazil and Uruguay. International Sociology28(3), 351-370.Osman, F. A. (2002) Public policy making: theories and their implications in developing countries. Asian Affairs24(3), 37-52.

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