Edited by H. K. Colebatch and Robert Hoppe
Chapter 4: Policy as (mere) problem-solving
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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