Thursday, November 7, 2013

Policy Analysis - A Detailed Understanding

It is imperative for every Public Administration scholar,practitioner,researcher and enthusiast to understand the core of this discipline,which in its true essence is Policy Analysis.
It is also immensely needed to be understood by social workers,Politicians and all those involved in any subject within the realm of Social studies so that we have better policy formulations,implementations and evaluations in the present and the future by all the stakeholders involved in policy decisions as well as those who are impacted/benefited by the same.

So, let us begin.

Jacob B. Ukeles observes Policy Analysis as the systematic investigation of alternative policy options. He opines that Policy Analysis is:
"The systematic investigation of alternative policy options and the assembly and integration of the evidence for and against each option. It involves a problem solving approach,the collection and interpretation of information and some attempt to predict the consequences of alternative courses of action."

1. EMPIRICAL,EVALUATIVE OR NORMATIVE POLICY ANALYSIS - This approach poses questions about past policies and analyses its causes and effects  in order to find solutions to future issues in the same or future policies.

It also evaluates the worth and value of a policy option so that future courses of actions can be recommended.

2. RETROSPECTIVE/PROSPECTIVE POLICY ANALYSIS - It does a historical analysis and interpretation of past policies in order to ascertain solutions to or infact prevention of such repetition of mistakes/miscalculations in future and future policies.

The prospective part of this approach to policy analysis focuses on the future outcomes of a proposed policy. It is anticipatory in essence.

Retrospective policy analysis approach is more beneficial than the prospective one as in the former's case there is decisive info and analysis to carve future courses of action but in the latter's case there is uncertainty to a certain level and also prone to manipulations.

3. PREDICTIVE/PRESCRIPTIVE/DESCRIPTIVE POLICY ANALYSIS-  It refers to the forecasting of future state of affairs arising from the implementation of a particular policy alternative. It recommends actions that could result in a particular outcome. When one is is unsure regarding the nature of a resolution to an issue and there is no precedent for the same then one refers to the prescriptive policy analysis.
However, this can be influenced by the policy maker's personal approach.

Descriptive part of this approach refers to historical or retrospective analysis of past policies and also evaluates a new policy as and when it is being implemented. The primary approach in this is to understand the problem rather than its resolution. It is however incorporated into prospective policy analysis frequently so that there is a detailed evaluation and also solutions found expeditiously to mend the current policy as it is being implemented.


1. Verify,define and detail the problem.

2. Establish Evaluation Criteria.

3. Identify alternative policies.

4. Evaluate alternative polices.

5. Display and distinguish among alternative policies.

6. Monitor the implemented policy.