The rational choice model was an attempt to move human decision making away from the emotional and sometimes corrupt world of politics to what was perceived as the calculated dispassionate, impartial, and hones world of science. This school of thought is also referred to as positivism (Clemons, McBeth 40). The rational model is a scientific system that recognizes only non-metaphysical and observable phenomena. The policy analyst under this system is to specify procedures to gather facts about the world as it is and to present those facts to decision makers following a neutral and objective assessment, absent of the error or prejudice which would be brought on by incorporating values (Clemons, McBeth 40, 41). The only way to accomplish this is through a separation of administration and politics. This separation is known as the politics/administration dichotomy, and is thought to remove the administrator from partisanship, exploitation, and corruption, in decision making each of which accompany politics (Clemons, McBeth 39). The rational model suggests the determination, clarification, weighting and specification of goals/objectives/values. Next, all plausible, available and alternative means should be listed and their likelihood of achieving the ends carefully scrutinized by the analyst. The decision makers are then presented with these options and are expected to select the alternative with the most favorable cost-benefit ratio or optimal outcome (Clemons, McBeth 42,43).
The nonrational approach is also referred to as the political approach. This clearly indicates that those from this school believe that the decision making process is essentially a political process (Clemons, McBeth 69). While the rational decision making model suggests a complete separation of politics and administration in decision making, the nonrational model suggested the two are intertwined.
According to Kingdon, there are three streams which must converge in order for policy development to occur: problem stream, policy stream and politics stream. In this case problems will not even achieve agenda status without the willingness of our political system to place it there (Clemons, McBeth 69,70). Thus the problem must be defined in way the political system is willing to accept. This problem definition often times comes from a value driven interest group, who can convince policy makers that an issue has reached crises proportion or dramatizes a larger issue (Clemons, McBeth 73).
The policy analyst in this situation must formulate policies to address this problem, not only taking into consideration the objective facts (as suggested in the rational model), but the values of those that promoted the issue to agenda status as well. If the formulated policies are not tailored to meet to meet the strategically crafted argument that was used by others to convince policy makers that action was needed in the first place, it is safe to assume that these policies will not be considered viable (Clemons, McBeth 79).
Once policy is implemented, there is often discrepancy between its intentions and how it is being carried out by administration. This is largely due to the way the policy is interpreted by the administrators. As policies are carried put political battles through the use of the media, word wars, definitional struggles and court cases continue. As a result the political nature of implementation is becoming more and more a reality (Clemons, McBeth 79, 80).
The non-rational choice decision making model recognizes that politics plays a crucial role in decision making throughout the policy process. An issue will not even