Master’s Programme in Public Policy 2014-2015
Msc Public Policy
Study skills sessions
Assessed Essay Question:
Critically evaluate the stages model of the policy process.
Candidate Number: 11589
Word Count: 2027
Policy, as a common principle, which can guide or lead the actions of an object to a certain aim. Policies are specific and implied statements of goals and objectives, as well as the means by which they intend to achieve those goals and objectives and policies are established through political processes in both formal and informal settings (Brieger, 2006). In ordinary life, people act under a lot of policies, it can be figured out that the various policies really influence daily life deeply and widely. But how these policies have been made? To discuss the question, firstly it is necessary to shape a cognition of the policy process which will inform how these are working.
In modern society, governments have explored some ways to make policy, definitely, the most common and also the most controversial one is the stages model. This essay will concentrate on the policy process especially the stages model and critically evaluate this kind of policy process model. Section II will give the definition of the stages model. Chapter III and IV will focus on how the stages model has been made and how is it applying to the policy making process then chapter V and VI will critically introduce its strengths and weaknesses. Section VII concludes the stages model influence of the policy process.
II. Defining Stages Model
To critically evaluate the stages model of the policy process and how it influences the policy process, a working definition of the stages model is necessary. Schlager, however, offers a slightly different approach to this issue. She sees the stages notion as a ‘useful categorization of behavior and action within entire policy processes’ but not a framework because ‘general classes of variables, or “universal elements”, and customary relationships among them’ are lacking. She thus describes it as ‘a typology that completely describes policy decisions and actions that occur around a policy’(Peters & Pierre, 2006). So the stages model not just a framework but more close to a theory. The stages model is useful as a heuristic for identifying times and places where different tactics for influencing policy come into play (Brieger, 2006).
III. The Stages Model of Policy Making
Harold Lasswell and Daniel Lerner have edited a book: The Policy Sciences:Recent Developments in Scope and Method which firstly raise the terminology stages model, perhaps experts and scholars will see that as the origin of the stages model. Normally, policy analysts divided it into seven steps which start with agenda setting then recognition of problem, consideration of options, agreement on most suitable option, introduction of new policy, implementation and finally monitoring and evaluation (Lerner & Lasswell, 1951). In the 1970s, Charles O. Jones has developed the stages model into 5 steps in his book: An Introduction to the Study of Public Policy. James E. Anderson’s Public Policy-Making (1974) also mentioned the stages model and he continued Jones’ theory. But the most profound influence on the stages model is Garry D. Brewe and Peter DeLeon’s theory in 1983 which was provided in The Foundations of Policy Analysis. In this book, Brewer and DeLeon divided the stages model into 6 steps. First, Initiation, is to set goals and design scheme. Second, Estimation, is to discuss the problem then provide one or more solutions. Third, Selection, is to discuss the solutions what they provide and choose the best one. Fourth, Implementation, is to institute the implementing regulations and monitor the executive condition. Fifth, Evaluation, is to base on the standards to compare the performance. Finally, Termination, is to analyze the cost-effectiveness and in terms