Handbook on Policy, Process and Governing
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Handbook on Policy, Process and Governing

Edited by H. K. Colebatch and Robert Hoppe

This Handbook covers the accounts, by practitioners and observers, of the ways in which policy is formed around problems, how these problems are recognized and understood, and how diverse participants come to be involved in addressing them. H.K. Colebatch and Robert Hoppe draw together a range of original contributions from experts in the field to illuminate the ways in which policies are formed and how they shape the process of governing.
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Chapter 4: Policy as (mere) problem-solving

Nick Turnbull


The policy process is not ‘mere’ problem-solving. The idealized vision of a linear progression from problem to solution has been rejected for more complex analyses. This chapter reviews theory in regard to all three elements of the problem orientation: problem, solution, and the process that links them. The problem itself is problematic, therefore policy analysis involves sorting through questions rather than simply seeking the best solution. Problems are already a result. Partial solutions are the norm, reached through a succession of questioning processes. The policy process is the continuing collective management of the problematic. In theories of process, a key distinction arises between analytical and post-positivist models. Problems and solutions are not autonomous from the policy process. For many scholars, the policy process, the problem and the solution have become inextricably intertwined in a creative process of self-reference: each emerges from the other in the course of interrogation.

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