FACULTY OF HUMANITIES AND SOCIAL SCIENCE
DEPARTMENT OF GOVERNANCE PEACE AND SECURITY STUDIES
Bachelor of Arts in Security Studies
ASSIGNMENT NO: ONE
BASED ON THOROUGH RESEARCH, EXPLAIN THE MEANING OF PUBLIC POLICY
SUBMITTED BY: BSS/39/17
SUBMITTED TO: MR. G. MHANGO
Date of Submission: FRIDAY 16TH NOVEMBER, 2018
WHAT IS PUBLIC POLICY?
Much of the literature in political sciences in this field of policy formation concerned with the understanding of how policy is made. It address questions like “who make the policy?” who is the policy for? And who benefits? (Spicker,p., 2006). Stone argued that policy formation is a process of negotiation, bargaining within ‘polis’ or political community. The negotiationand the bargaining depend on the reconciliation of the conflict of interest and people are influenced by many factors such as concealment, bluff, log rolling, bargaining(trying to get the results one wants), influence, loyalty and so forth(Stone, D., 1997). Policy is a very ambiguous term. In its simplest form Spicker defines it as ‘a decision about a course of action,’ but it is also supposed to represent a set of decisions, interrelated and consistent with others.Anderson (2003) defines policy as behavior of actor or actors, such as an official, governmental agency or a legislature in an area of activities such as public transportation or consumer protection. He also argued that a policy is a relatively stable, purposive course of action followed by an actor or set of actors in dealings with a problem or matters of concern.
MEANING OF PUBLIC POLIY BY DIFFERENT SCHOLARS
There are several definitions of public policy. Next are some examples as defined by different schools of thoughts:
Dye, (1972) define public policy as whatever governments choose to do or not to do. Frederich, (1963) Argues that it is a proposed course of action of a person, group or government within a given environment providing obstacles and opportunities which the policy was proposed to utilize and overcome in an effort to reach a goal or realize an objective or purpose. However Daneke and Steiss ( 1978) defined it as a broad guide to present and future decisions, selected in light of given conditions from a number of alternatives; the actual decision or set of decisions designed to carry out the chosen course of actions; a projected program consisting of desired objectives (goals) and the means of achieving them. Likewise Dodd et al. (2000) define public policy as a Commitment to a course or plan of action agreed to by a group of people with the power to carry it out. Furthermore Public policy is the broad framework of ideas and values within which decisions are taken and action, or inaction, is pursued by governments in relation to some issue or problem. (Brooks, 1989) In simple term, public policy is a choice or decision made by government that guides subsequent actions in similar circumstances. However this paper will define public policy as follows:
First, Daneke and Steiss ( 1978) defined public policy as a broad guide to present and future decisions, selected in light of given conditions from a number of alternatives; the actual decision or set of decisions designed to carry out the chosen course of actions; a projected program consisting of desired objectives (goals) and the means of achieving them. For example prior to 2015 the government of Malawi proposed to build more technical colleges with the purpose to increase the number of students selected to public colleges and this was evidenced on 15th October, 2015 when president Arthur peter Mutharika launched the community technical college concept in the southern region at Naminjiwa in phalombe (Mwahara, P. Mana 15 oct, 2015).
Similarly, Public policy are those developed by governmental body and officials and have special characteristics of public policies stem from their being formulated by what political scientist Easton as cited in Anderson (2003), called the authority in a political system as elders, paramount chiefs, executives, legislators, judges, administrators, councilors, monarchs and the like. These are the persons who encourage in responsibility for those matters and take actions that are accepted as binding most of the time by most of the members so long as they act within the limits of their roles. In Malawi there are so many public policies which are also derived from authorities like the elders, paramount chiefs, executives, legislators, judges, administrators, councilors and monarchs. This is Purposive course of action followed by government in dealing with some problem or matter of concern. For example to increase farm income, the national government utilizes income subsidies and production controls.
Likewise, Hogwood and Gunn (1994) define public policy as an output. This focuses what the government delivers to the society not what it has promise or authorized through legislation. Output is difficult to decide what the final outcome of the policy will be. As such, output is different from outcome in the sense that in outcome as public policy, the government predicts whether the objective is met or not. For example, in Malawi the government issued agricultural inputs such as seeds, fertilizers through farm inputs subsidy program to its citizens who cannot manage to buy it. The objective is to enhance national food security, but it is difficult for the government to account for what is delivered to the society through its outcome. Dye (1972) argues that public policy is an action as well as inactions that emerge in response to policy demands or those claims for action or inaction on some issues made by other actors such as private citizens, group representative or legislators and other public officials upon government officials and agencies. In response to demands, public officials make decision that give content and directions to public policy. This decision may enact statues, issue executive orders, edicts, promulgate administrative rule, or make judicial interpretations of law (Anderson, 2003).
Moreover, Anderson (2003) defines public policy as the authoritative, legally coercive quality that the policies of private organizations do not have. This can be seen as the difference between the government and the private organization such that government can incarcerate people while private organization cannot do. However, there are some public policies which may be violated even though seems to be authoritative, for example the violation of speed limits on the public road by the drivers. In the Malawian context the government established specific speed limit in some areas of the public roads in order to control accidents which occurs due to over speeding on these public roads. Rose (1976) also argues that public policy is not a decision but it is a course or pattern of activity and such activity is regarded as activities of the government. Hogwood and Gunn (1994) define public policy as a label of some field of activity. This activity implies those of the government in the area of economics, social issues and foreign policies. In the context of Malawi policy in social can look on areas like infrastructural development like road construction network for easy transportation of people and goods, for example, the construction of Mzuzu-Nkhatabay road can be considered as government activity. In foreign policy government do ratify treaties with some international organization as well as regional organization. For example, African union, United Nations and this ratification can be seen as activity of government.
From the discussion above on the meaning of public policy, various studies have been attempted from different angles by many scholars. The definitions derived based from their specific goals, objectives, intention, action and inaction, activity, among others. Public policy therefore, has both positive and negative consequences.
Anderson, J.E., 2003, pp. 1-34, public Policy making:An introduction. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin Company.
Brooks, Stephen. , 1989, P.16, Public Policy in Canada: An Introduction, McClelland and Stewart Inc., Toronto, Ontario.
Dye, Thomas R., 1972, Understanding Public Policy, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.Dodd, Julie Devon and Michelle Hébert Boyd., 2000, Capacity Building – Linking Community
Experience to Public Policy, Population and Public Health Branch, Atlantic Regional Office,
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Daneke, Gregory A. and Alan Walter Steiss., 1978, Planning and Policy Analysis for Public
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Easton, D., 1953, the Political System, New York: Knopf.
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Frederich, Carl J.,1963, P.79, Man and his Government, McGraw Hill, New York.
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Spicker, P., 2006, Policy Analysis for Practice, University of Bristol: policy press.