Lindblom, Charles E. & Edward J. Woodhouse
Lindblom, Charles E. & Edward J. Woodhouse. The Policy Making Process (Third Edition). Prentice Hall: Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1993
Chapter 1: The Challenge Facing Policy Making
p.2 -- Why are humans not more effective in actually solving social problems?
Why do avowedly democratic governments so often appear to be unresponsive
to many of their citizens?
Policy occurs through a system as much as through policy makers
Foci of the book:
Cognitive Limits and Impairments
problems often too complex for comprehensive human conception and perception
p.5 -- There is a deep and persistent unwillingness in Western culture to acknowledge the difficulties arising from the world's complexity and humans' modest cognitive abilities.
unless human limits are taken seriously, it is impossible to assess the magnitude
of the task facing a political system
Analysis Versus Power
intellectual approaches are often somewhat bloodless and mechanical
p.7 -- People want democracy to be informed and well analyzed, perhaps even correct and scientific; yet they also want policy making to be democratic and hence necessarily an exercise of power.
policy making is political in that it involves the use of authority
The Policy-Making Roles of Business
important public tasks delegated to the business sector in market economies
public in the sense of mattering to everyone, and being as important as government decisions
consumer influence is limited to voting with dollars and feet
p.8 -- What remains invariant is that there is this second set of public officials, and
that policy making by the "private sector" constitutes a system of control
over society's directions that rivals government in overall import.
business executives major players in political life - puts pressure on politicians
Socioeconomic and Political Inequality
social and economic inequalities translate into political inequalities
Are there political mechanisms in democracy which compensate for inequality?
How to Study the Policy Process
p.10 -- The step by step approach also risks assuming that policy making proceeds through a coherent and rational process.
policy process like a primeval soup
p.11 -- Policy making is a complexly interactive process without beginning or end.
Chapter 2: The Limits of Analysis
The Ubiquity of Analysis
How far does analysis and reasoned discussion go in policy making?
limits of analysis
facts and arguments vital to the political debate
some government agencies exist purely to engage in analysis
p.14 -- A kind of analysis sometimes called planning focuses on understanding
interrelations among policies in various areas over time.
p.15 -- There runs a deep and wide river of information and opinion fed by many springs,
from formal research projects to letters to the editor, some of which makes it way into
the thinking of those with direct influence over policy.
Limits on Analysis as a Substitute for Politics
Why, given its obvious merits, do governments not make even more use of analysis?
p.16 -- To reach a solution without any exercise of power, sheer information and reasoning alone would have to be sufficient to bring all relevant parties into agreement.
Too much and too little information
Conflict of Values
p.19 -- To make policy solely by analysis also would require a harmony of interests of
values among all individuals and groups.
Public Interest Criterion
Time and Cost
p.21 -- Each major study undertaken by the Office of Technology Assessment,
for example, costs nearly a million dollars -- and these studies are neither
comprehensive nor conclusive.
p.21 -- Most policy questions therefore are decided by faster, cheaper methods than by analysis: most commonly, by delegating responsibility for decisions to designated officials who must decide, drawing on whatever information is available.
p.22 -- If professional analysis deserves to be seen as no more than an input to political interaction and judgment, never a substitute for it, then inquiry and judgment by ordinary people remain at the heart of the policy making process.
Chapter 3: The Potential Intelligence of Democracy
p.23 -- If complex social problems cannot be solved through analysis, then shaping a better world will depend largely on the extent to which political arrangements evoke fair and sensible judgments.
How can government be organized to locate power and wisdom in the same place?
Democratic virtue does not rest in
p.24 -- To the extent that democratic systems do work, it is largely because they half-wittingly utilize strategies that render complex social problems far more manageable than could be achieved via analysis alone.
Agreement in Lieu of Complete Understanding
Each party declares their high priority problems
Some criteria of an intelligent political process:
Search for Agreement
p.26 -- political interaction achieves a form of understanding that cannot be produced
through analysis alone.
as partisans interact, they analyze
Simple incremental analysis
Focus on a few policy options
Trial and Error
Fragmentation of Analysis Among Partisans
p.31 -- Many advocates of more analysis and less politics in public policy making
have simply taken for granted that analysis should always be placed at the service
of some government functionary who has comprehensive responsibilities in a problem
area. But there is no such person, because each official deals at any given time with
limited problems, within a limited perspective.
p.31 -- There is never a point at which thinking, research, and action is "objective", or "unbiased."
Chapter 4: The Imprecision of Voting
Do voters determine policy indirectly via their votes for elected representatives?
Looseness of Control
policy fails to correspond with public opinion at least one third of the time
Help From Political Parties
Limits on party effectiveness
Chapter 5: Elected Functionaries
p.45 -- Because electoral controls are too imprecise to determine more than the broadest contours of policy making, direct authority rests largely in the hands of elected functionaries, their appointees, and civil servants.
policy making aspects not amenable to the mass public
elected officials constitute an elite of sorts
Complications of Democratic Policy Making
pluralistic policy systems
Complications of Liberty
p.47 -- Designers of political systems did not singularly attend to considerations of efficient and democratic policy making, because another consideration loomed even larger: curbing the power of rulers to engage in arbitrary action.
liberty v. popular control of policy v. maximally efficient or effective policy making
Organizing and Coordinating
organizing is crucial for coordination
p.49 -- Any elected functionary has to act on more issues than a single person could fully understand.
partisan voting and legislating
deference to leader of political party - expedites the process at the cost of a
diversity of opinion
self selected role of the functionary may not be that of serving the public so much as holding office
p.55 -- the system within which elected functionaries work lacks a systematic strategy for inducing them to perform in ways that lead to intelligent, democratic outcomes.
Chapter 6: Bureaucratic Policy MakingDo civil servants act as a corrective for other flaws in the policy process?
Or does bureaucracy share and even exacerbate problems found elsewhere in the policy making process?
But on the whole bureaucracy works surprisingly well
Why is the enormous collective experience of the bureaucracy less effective
than many people would want?
Are Bureaucrats Policy Makers?
traditional theory - leaders set policy, administrators implement it
p.59 -- Administrative actions typically modify or set policy in the process of trying to implement it, and agencies not infrequently are instructed by elected functionaries to make policy.
p.60 -- If the aim is to understand how governments come to do what they do, however, the term policy needs to be applied to actual practice, not merely to formally announced intentions.
p.62 -- One reason it sometimes makes good sense to delegate policy-making authority to the bureaucracy is that new policies may be developed early in the life cycle of a social problem, when there is little experience on which to base a regulatory effort.
Limits on Bureaucratic Intelligence
Specialization and Coordination
some limitations implicit in bureaucracy, which exists for the purpose of
specialization for specific job
Centralized Coordination versus Mutual Adjustment
p.67 -- It is impossible unambiguously calculate even how a single complex
policy will interact with another, much less how it will interact with all others.
Another way of coordinating
Democratic Supervision of the Bureaucracy
p.68 -- Elected functionaries spend great effort to learn what the bureaucratic agencies are doing, and trying to induce the agencies to behave as they desire.
Democratic versus Intelligent
a necessary evil
p.72 -- It allows complex governments to function but sets sharp limits on the degree of intelligence and public responsiveness that ordinarily can be expected.
Chapter 7: Interest Groups in Policy Making
p.73 -- When survey researchers ask people what they consider the main deficiency in American government, nearly half say that organized interests and lobbies obstruct democracy by exerting too much influence; more than 80 percent agree that "special interests get more from government than people do."
Who Are They?
p.75 -- Very loosely, then, interest group activities are interactions through which individuals and private groups not holding government authority seek to influence policy, together with those policy-influencing interactions of government officials that go well beyond the direct use of their authority.
Indispensability of Interest Group Activity
exercise in liberty
Clarifying and Articulating What Citizens Want
Forming a Feasible Agenda
p.76 -- The number of alternative policies that a government might pursue on any issue is at least as large as the number of citizens, each of whom might have his or her own idea of a good policy.
Interactive Problem Solving
Coalition Building -- must be a coalition capable of acting on the policy
Source of Interest-Group Influence
Within government, power brokering, bargaining with one's own in-house
resources and authority
Delivering the Vote
p.82 -- By clarifying and articulating what people want, monitoring government's performance, and otherwise joining in the policy-making process, do interest groups somehow win an influential role for themselves.
Three types of persuasion
Interest-Group Leaders as an Elite
Troublesome Aspects of Interest Groups
p.84 -- Because organized groups serve such indispensable political functions, contributing both to the intelligence of the policy-making process and to the diversity of viewpoints brought to bear in representative democratic systems, government functionaries grant participation in policy making to those perceived as spokespersons for social concerns entitled to consideration.
Subordination of Common to Segmental Interests
Too Many Veto Points
p.88 -- If vetoes can stop policy initiatives at many points, groups of citizens can control their government only when they want it to desist. Not even a large majority may be able to systematically and routinely control it when they want it to act.
Chapter 8: The Position of Business in Policy Making
The most important extra-governmental obstruction to democratic, intelligent steering of society is the business sector's influence over public policy.
A Privileged Position for Business?
Business as a rival system to public policy making
p.91 -- business would play a unique and powerful role in the overall scope of
public policy making even if corporate executives never exercised any influence
over elections, political activities, or governmental actions.
p.93 -- Government officials must find out what business needs even if corporate executives do not take the trouble to speak for these requirements; must give managers enough of what they need to motivate production, jobs, growth.
businesses therefore may get precedence over citizens.
The Range and Kinds of Control
two types of benefit
p.95 -- Businesspeople usually exercise control without great expenditure of attention of deliberation. They simply operate under circumstances in which both they and government officials know that continued performance depends on business indulgences, benefits, privileges, and incentives.
Are Business Privileges Unique?
Additional Forms of Business Influence
p.96 -- Businesspeople bring electoral controls into line by entering into interest-group, party, and other electoral activities and achieving disproportionate influence.
Persuasion of Citizens
p.98 -- few are able to consider the possibility that business demands obstruct
citizens' demands and that some aspects of the present business system may be
an undemocratic element fitting oddly into a society aspiring to be more democratic.
Advantages in Electoral Politics
there is conflict within the business sector, which helps to keep it in check
p.102 -- The political strength of business appears to grow when there is widespread concern about the strength of the economy and to decline when faith in the economy returns.
Fears of regulations
p.103 -- It is impossible to determine just how government might behave toward
business in the absence of political activity by business, because a high level of
such activity has for so long been a routine feature of political life.
Chapter 9: Political Inequality
Democracy and Inequality
political inequality does not deprive citizens of control -- just some citizens exercise more control than others
p.104 -- The norm of political equality harks back to the axiom that democracy requires not simply responsiveness to citizens, but an equal distribution among them of capacities for exerting influence.
Patterns of Unequal Participation
Causes of Inequality
p.109 -- People participate if taught to believe it matters, if helped to acquire verbal
and other skills of citizenship, if indoctrinated with aspirations and expectations
that stimulate rather than paralyze, and if taught to see themselves as members of
the political community. Citizens not socialized in these ways are not likely to vote
or otherwise participate in politics.
Organization, Funding, and Access
alone a single citizen can do almost nothing - people must join together
Wealth, Favors, and Deference
p.111 -- donations are a normal part of the process by which busy officials set priorities
for their time, and most citizens are excluded from the bidding due to lack of capital.
Inequality and Intelligent Policy Making
Chapter 10: Impaired Inquiry
p.114 -- Because democratic political interaction is the primary basis for wise policy making, the quality of people's thinking can have a huge influence on whether their interactions result in sensible and fair policy agreements. Extended inquiry into the thinking abilities and inquiry skills of both ordinary citizens and political elites therefore may be among the most consequential investigations students of public policy can make in trying to understand what goes right and wrong in the effort to shape policy.
Schooling and Other Sources of Impairment
Peer Groups and Media
p.117 -- No peer group encourages intense probing and disagreement regarding its
own norms, not even university professors.
Unilateral Communications from Elite to Mass
Results of Impairment
p.120 -- Some ideas thereby come close to silencing others, excluding them from discussion as irrelevant, inappropriate, or even unthinkable. This may not be a problem in traditional cultures; in technological societies, however, excessive conformity fundamentally undermines social problem solving.
Impairment and Elite Advantage
easier for elite to preserve advantages
Suspiciously High Levels of Agreement
Indoctrination, Obfuscation, Suppression
p.121 -- Who or what has taught hundreds of millions of people to refrain from challenging the fundamentals of existing political and economic processes?
p.122 -- That no democracy has put on its agenda a major frontal assault on wealth and its attendant privileges is a historical fact of pivotal importance.
Chapter 11: Making the Most of Analysis
p.126 -- Unfortunately for deliberate efforts to accelerate political progress, it is far
from obvious how to get more people to have better ideas.
three changes for professional analysts
Adapting Analysis to Politics
p.127 -- analysis should aim to improve the quality of political interaction, not try to substitute for it
Analysis for Conflict Resolution
three methods for conflict resolution
analysis should focus on reasoned reduction of conflict - elucidating the sticking points
p.130 -- As obvious as its seems, in fact policy professionals virtually never discuss the thorny issue of how to figure out what their actual or hypothetical clients actually need.
Intelligent Trial and Error
Reducing Professional Impairment
Chapter 12: More Democracy
Potentially Remediable Deficiencies
most policy process problems appear fixable
p141 -- It is pretty clear that contemporary democracies are actually only feeble
imitations of the aspirations embodied in the word democracy.
p.141 -- Hence what counts most is whether social processes and power relations are set up to promote intelligent inquiry, debate, and mutual adjustment among those with stakes and insights concerning the broad spectrum of social problems and possibilities.
p. 142 -- If the political universe is not set up to evoke, receive, negotiate, and act sensibly and fairly on complaints and policy proposals, then potentially good ideas will never have much of a chance to be developed, debated, and acted upon.
Three primary obstructions
Copyright 2000 -- Peter L. Kantor [firstname.lastname@example.org]