Nodality Tools; Government Communications and Issue Management

Wikis > Agenda-Setting Tools > Types of Government Agenda Setting Tools (Hood/NATO) > Nodality Tools; Government Communications and Issue Management

Source: Howlett, M & Shivakoti, R. (2014) Agenda-Setting Tools: State-Driven Agenda Activity from Government Relations to Scenario Forecasting.  DRAFT PAPER, Presented to ECPR Glasgow General Conference, Non-Implementation Tools Panel

 Government communications are the ‘sermons’ in the ‘carrots, sticks, organizations and sermons’ formulation of basic policy instrument types. Evert Vedung defines these ‘sermons’ as:

“Efforts to use the knowledge and data available to governments to influence consumer and producer behaviour in a direction consistent with government aims and wishes” and/or “gather information in order to further their aims and ambitions” (Vedung and van der Doelen, 1998).

This definition, while useful, is limited in that it conceals or elides several dimensions of information tool use and the general purposes to which they can be put.

Two dimensions of government communications activities, in particular, are often incorrectly juxtaposed in the literature on the subject. First, whether the communication activities are intended to serve as devices primarily oriented towards the manipulation of policy actors (Saward, 1992; Edelman, 1988) or social and economic ones (Hornik, 1989; Jahn et al., 2005) and, second, which stages of the production process or policy cycle different communication tools focus upon (Howlett, 2009).Both missing dimensions require further elaboration in order to develop a workable definition and classification of communication tools for comparative purposes.

With respect to the first “substantive” dimension, much existing literature focuses very much on the manipulation of the behaviour of economic actors – namely consumers and producers – to the neglect of the effects such tools can and do have upon other kinds of policy and policy network actors and activities.  With respect to the second “procedural” concern, many studies focus exclusively on the role of government communications as part of the agenda-setting process in government (Mikenberg, 2001; Sulitzeanu-Kenan, 2007) or on its role in policy implementation (Salmon, 1989a, 1989b), or upon their effect on consumption activities and actors versus those involving productive or distributive activities. These are quite different roles and functions within the policy and production processes, however, and should be carefully distinguished from each other in order to understand the links and linkages that exist between government communication strategies and activities and policy outcomes such as accountability and policy efficacy and in order to assess any trends or directions in the use of these instruments, either cross-sectorally or cross-nationally, or over time, or both.

In Text Citations:

Edelman, Murray J. Constructing the Political Spectacle, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988, pp. 12-13

Hornik,
 R.
 “The
 Knowledge‐Behavior
 Gap
 in
 Public
 Information Campaigns.”
 In
 Information
 Campaigns:
 Managing 
the
 Process 
of
 Social
Change, 
edited
 by 
C.
Salmon.
Newberry
Park:
 Sage,
1989

Jahn,
 G.,
 M.
 Schramm,
 and
 A.
 Spiller.
 “The
 Reliability
 of
 Certification:
 Quality
 Labels
 as
 a
 Consumer
 Policy 
Tool.” 
Journal
 of
 Consumer
 Policy 28
(2005):
53‐73.

Mikenberg,
 M.
 “The
 Radical
 Right
 in
 Public
 Office:
 Agenda‐Setting
 and
 Policy
 Effects.”
 West
 European
 Politics 24,
no.
4
(2001):
1‐21.

Salmon,
 C.
 “Campaigns
 for
 Social
 Improvement:
 An
 Overview
 of
 Values,
 Rationales,
 and
 Impacts.”
In 
Information
 Campaigns:
Managing
 the
Process
 of
 Social 
Change, 
edited
 by
 C.
 Salmon,
1‐32. 
Newberry
 Park:
Sage,
1989.

Salmon,
 C.
 Information
 Campaigns:
 Managing
 the
 Process
 of
 Social
 Change.
 Newberry
 Park:
 Sage,
1989.

Saward,
M.
Co‐Optive 
Politics 
and 
State
 Legitimacy. 
Aldershot:
Dartmouth,
1992

Sulitzeanu‐Kenan,
 Raanan,
 “Scything
 the
 Grass:
 Agenda‐Setting
 Consequences
 of
 Appointing
 Public 
Inquiries 
in 
the 
UK. 
A 
Longitudinal
Analysis.”
 Policy 
&
 Politics
 35, 
no.
4
 (2007):
629‐ 50.

Vedung,
 E.
 and
 F.
 C.
 J.
 v.
 d.
 Doelen
 (1998).
 The
 Sermon:
 Information
 Programs
 in
 the
 Public
 Policy
 Process
 ‐
 Choice,
 Effects
 and
 Evaluation.
 Carrots,
 Sticks
 and
 Sermons:
 Policy Instruments
 and
 Their 
Evaluation.
M.‐L.
Bemelmans‐Videc, 
R.
C. 
Rist
and 
E.
Vedung.
 New
 Brunswick,
Transaction 
Publishers: 103‐128.

 

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