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Fritz Sager, Christian Rosser, Céline Mavrot and Pascal Y. Hurni

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Edmund C. Stazyk and H. George Frederickson

Since its inception, the aim of this Handbook has been three-fold. We have sought, first and foremost, to assemble a unique collection of chapters that offers our readers a broad yet comprehensive scholarly overview of US public administration theory and practice—to be sure, a daunting task. United States public administration is vast in its domains, covering considerable intellectual terrain. For example, Dimock and colleagues have characterized merely the study of public administration in the following manner. [P]ublic administration examines every aspect of government’s efforts to discharge the laws and to give effect to public policy; as a process, it is all the steps taken between the time an enforcement agency assumes a jurisdiction and the last brick is placed (but includes also the agency’s participation, if any, in the formulation of the programme in the first place); and, as a vocation, it is organizing and directing the activities of others in a public agency. (Dimock et al. 1958, pp. 11–12)

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Ingmar van Meerkerk and Jurian Edelenbos

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Ingmar van Meerkerk and Jurian Edelenbos

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David Kaufmann

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Chan S. Jung

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B. Guy Peters

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B. Guy Peters

Scholars and the individuals involved in making public policy use a variety of words to describe how they actually arrive at the content of those policies. Perhaps the most commonly used word is “formulation” (see Jordan and Turnpenny, 2015), but words such as creation, innovation, and development are also used to describe the process of finding some form of intervention to confront a policy problem. The hope is always that the policy that is formulated or created will be able to “solve” the problem, and that government (and citizens) can go on to cope with the next problem that arises. When Herbert Simon (1996, 111) wrote that “everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones”, the definition was somewhat generic but was definitely speaking to policy design. Although thinking about policy design has become more common in policy studies, it should be considered as a significant alternative to more casual ways of thinking about policy formulation. As Jan Tinbergen (1958, 3), a Nobel laureate in economics argued, design (in particular design for development policy) was an alternative to “decisions taken on the basis of a general idea of progress and often somewhat haphazardly”. That haphazard style of making policies persists in many countries and in many policy areas. Therefore, careful consideration of design strategies is important for both academic students of policy and policymakers in the “real world” of government.

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Chan S. Jung

This chapter provides conceptual explanations about goal and ambiguity separately. Then goal ambiguity in public management is explained in terms of definition, importance, and paradox. Goal ambiguity is defined as the extent to which a set of goals in a public program or an organization allows different interpretations in deciding work related to target, time limit, and external evaluation. Ambiguous goals can have negative effects throughout a program, an organization, and further on citizens and society and on public service performance. However, public managers must face dilemmatic situations between clear goals for (rational) managerial strategy and ambiguous goals for political need (e.g. interventions on the society versus broader political support), which is called the paradox of goal ambiguity. Then this chapter describes the plan of this book.

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Lasse Gerrits and Stefan Verweij