Actors, Capacities, Venues and Effects
New Horizons in Public Policy series
Edited by Andrew J. Jordan and John R. Turnpenny
Chapter 13: The tools of policy formulation: new perspectives and new challenges
It is generally accepted that policy tools and instruments exist at all stages of the policy process (Howlett 2011, p. 22). But as was pointed out in Chapter 1, only some tools and instruments, operating at certain policy stages, have garnered the sustained analytical attention of policy researchers. Policy formulation – a very important but imperfectly understood stage – has certainly been targeted by developers of new tools, ranging from foresight and scenario tools that seek to open up problem framings and conceptualizations, through to tools like cost–benefit analysis (CBA) that seek to recommend preferred policy solutions. Tool developers and policy analysts have also made many normative recommendations on how these and other policy formulation tools should be used (Vining and Weimer 2010; Dunn 2004). But as was made clear in Chapter 1, mainstream policy researchers have largely ignored policy formulation tools, meaning that a lot less is known about how they have actually been utilized in practice. As Howlett et al. (Chapter 8) suggest, policy researchers have long suspected that they probably play some role in structuring policymaking activity, but what that function is remains a largely unexplored research topic.