What are policy tools?

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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

Policy alternatives are composed of different sets or combinations of the policy elements described above. Policy instruments1 are the techniques or means through which states’ attempt to attain their goals. They are the subject of deliberation and activity at all stages of the policy process as they affect both the agenda-setting and policy formulation processes as well as being the subject of decision-making policy implementation, and evaluation (Howlett 2005; Howlett, Ramesh and Perl 2009).

They have a special place in the consideration and study of policy design because, taken together, they comprise the contents of the toolbox from which governments must choose in building or creating public policies. Policy design elevates the analysis and practice of policy instrument choice – specifically tools for policy implementation – to a central focus of study, making their understanding and analysis a key design concern (Salamon 1981; Linder and Peters 1990). Instrument choice, from this perspective, in a sense, is public policy making, and understanding and analyzing potential instrument choices involved in implementation activity is policy design. The role of a textbook in policy design thus is one of assisting “in constructing an inventory of potential public capabilities and resources that might be pertinent in any problem-solving situation” (Anderson, p. 122)


In text citations:

Salamon, L. M. The Tools of Government: A Guide to the New Governance. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.





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