Policy Making and Framework Development

Public policy refers to the actions taken by the government and its decisions that are intended to solve problems and improve the quality of life for its citizens. At the federal level, public policies are enacted to regulate industry and business, to protect citizens at home and abroad, to aid state and city governments and people such as the poor through funding programs, and to encourage social goals (Stuart, 1990).

Process of Policy Making

A policy established and carried out by the government undergoes several stages from inception to conclusion. These are agenda building, formulation, adoption, implementation, evaluation, and termination (Fig. 7.2).

Stages of Policy Making

FIGURE 7.2 Stages of Policy Making.

7.3.1.1 Agenda Building

It becomes very essential to build an agenda before the actual policy making commences. For example, illegal immigration, has been going on for many years, but it was not until the 1990s that enough people considered it such a serious problem and felt that it requires increased government action. Another example is crime. Indian society has been tolerating a certain level of crime; however, when crime rose dramatically or is perceived to be rising dramatically, it became an issue for policy makers to address. Specific events can place a problem on the agenda. The flooding of a town near a river raises the question of whether homes should be allowed to be built on a floodplain.

7.3.1.2 Formulation and Adoption

Policy formulation refers to coming up with an approach to solving a problem wherein the legislature, the executive branch, the courts, and interest groups may be involved. Contradictory proposals are often made. The president may have one approach to immigration reform, and the opposition-party members may have another. Policy formulation then has a tangible outcome. A policy is adopted when parliament passes legislation, the regulations become final, or the Supreme Court renders a decision in a case.

7.3.1.3 Implementation

The implementation or carrying out of policy is most often accomplished by institutions other than those that formulated and adopted it. A statute usually provides just a broad outline of a policy. For example, the government may mandate improved water quality standards, but the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should provide the necessary details on those standards and the procedures for measuring compliance through regulations. Successful implementation depends on the complexity of the policy, coordination between those putting the policy into effect, and compliance.

7.3.1.4 Evaluation and Termination

Evaluation means determining how well a policy is being executed and adapted, which is not an easy task to monitor. People within and outside of the government typically use cost-benefit analysis to try to find the answer. In other words, if the government is spending x billions of rupees on a policy, are the benefits derived from it worth the expenditure? Cost-benefit analysis is based on hard-to-come-by data that are subject to different, and sometimes contradictory, interpretations. History has proven that once implemented, policies are difficult to terminate. When they are terminated, it is usually because the policy became obsolete, clearly did not work, or lost its support among the interest groups and elected officials that placed it on the agenda in the first place.

Framework Development

Theories are formulated to explain, predict, and understand phenomena and, in many cases, to challenge and extend existing knowledge within the limits of critical bounding assumptions. The theoretical framework is the structure that can hold or support a theory of a research study. The theoretical framework introduces and describes the theory that explains why the research problem under study exists. Here are some strategies to develop an effective theoretical framework: [1] [2] [3]

  • 4. List the constructs and variables that might be relevant to the study. Group these variables into independent and dependent categories.
  • 5. Review key social science theories that are introduced in the course readings and choose the theory that can best explain the relationships between the key variables in the study.
  • 6. Discuss the assumptions or propositions of this theory and point out their relevance to the research.

  • [1] Examine the title and research problem. The research problem anchors yourentire study and forms the basis from which you construct your theoreticalframework.
  • [2] Brainstorm about what you consider to be the key variables in your research.Answer the question, "What factors contribute to the presumed effect?”
  • [3] Review related literature to find how scholars have addressed your researchproblem. Identify the assumptions from which the author(s) addressed theproblem.
 
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