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A Comparison of Frameworks, Theories, and Models of Policy Process


A Comparison of Frameworks, Theories, and Models of Policy Process Dr. Khaled F. Sherif Introduction How to distinguish among frameworks, theories and models? – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: A Comparison of Frameworks, Theories, and Models of Policy Process

A Comparison of Frameworks, Theories, and Models
of Policy Process
Dr. Khaled F. Sherif
  • How to distinguish among frameworks, theories and
  • How do we know when an author has presented a
    framework rather than a theory, or a theory
    rather than a model?
  • Are theories of a more limited scope less useful
    than theories of a more general scope?

  • Bound inquiry and direct the attention of the
    analysis to critical features of the social and
    physical landscape
  • Provide a foundation for inquiry by specifying
    classes of variables and general relationships
    among them.
  • Thus, they organize inquiry, but they cannot in
    and of themselves provide explanations for, or
    predictions of, behavior and outcomes
  • Explanation and prediction lie in the realm of
    theories and models.

Frameworks (cont.)
  • The criteria for comparing frameworks
  • Types of actors
  • Development of general classes of variables and
    relationships among them
  • Units of analysis
  • Levels of analysis and
  • Scope

Types of Actors
  • Frameworks must specify who motivates action, or
  • Well-developed theories and models require that
    assumptions be made about individual behavior,
    and why individuals act as they do
  • A theory based on the IAD framework must identify
    the structure of preferences, general types of
    selection criteria, levels and types of
    information an individual is likely to possess,
    and so forth.

Variable Development
  • Frameworks present general classes of variables
    that structure, constrain, guide, and influence
    the actions taken by actors
  • The most well-developed classes of variables
    within the IDA framework are those that
    constitute the action arena, somewhat less
    developed are variables that structure the action
  • The characteristics of the physical environment
    are not well defined in IDA, and no variables are
    developed to characterize critical features of a
  • Poorly developed variables cause several
    problems, the most critical they lead to ad hoc
    theorizing and model building.

Units of Analysis
  • Can be almost anything a family, a church, a
    city, a irrigation project, and so forth
  • The policy innovations and the advocacy coalition
    frameworks are wedded to specific units of
  • Although each framework is grounded in a
    particular unit of analysis, there remains
    substantial flexibility in how the unit of
    analysis is applied in any particular instance.

Levels of Analysis
  • The concept of levels of analysis provides a
    richer, more meaningful, and imminently useful
    approach to understanding the myriad of
    activities that occur in relation to policymaking
  • Only the IAD framework pays explicit and careful
    attention to levels of analysis.
  • The ACF implicitly incorporates levels of action
    but appears to be designed primarily to account
    for action at the collective-choice level, just
    as the policy innovations framework.

  • The levels of action strongly affect the scope of
    the framework, that is the number and types of
    policy stages the framework embraces.
  • Before the scope is examined, the basis for
    defining scope, the policy stages, needs to be
  • Policy stages are best thought of as a typology
    that completely describes policy decisions and
    actions that occur around a policy.
  • The effect of policy stages has been substantial,
    because it presents a useful categorization of
    behavior and action within entire policy

  • Theories place values on some of the variables
    identified as important in a framework, present
    relationships among the variables, and make
    predictions about likely outcomes.
  • The criteria for comparing theories
  • A model of the individual
  • Collective action
  • Institutions
  • Policy change
  • Boundaries and scope of inquiry.

Model of the Individual
  • Each theory uses rationality models individuals
    are assumed to be goal-oriented they act in the
    ways that they believe make them better off.
  • There is variation among the rationality models
  • In the theory of common-pool resources,
    individuals are not maximizers but satisficers
  • In the punctuated-equilibrium theory, preferences
    are relatively fixed and slow to change
  • Instead of focusing on the structure of the
    situation to explain individual decisionmaking,
    the theory of advocacy coalitions empirically
    identifies the inner world of individuals.

Collective Action
  • Policy change occurs as a result of collective
  • The theories differ substantially
  • The multiple-streams theory focuses on the
    critical roles played by certain individuals, and
    the conditions that support broad-based
    collective action
  • The advocacy coalition theory pays close
    attention to collective-action issues based on
    coalition definitions
  • The theory of common-pool resources focuses on
    the characteristics of the physical world, the
    community, and the rules-in-use to explain
    collective action.

  • Theories provide different treatments of the
    context within which individuals act the
    institutional setting.
  • Institutional arrangements play a significant
    role in major policy change within the
    punctuated-equilibrium theory
  • The structure of governing systems sets the
    general context that affects political
  • Within a governing system, there are often
    multiple venues that control or have the
    potential to engage in desisionmaking around a
    policy issue
  • Institutions not only establish the general
    framework within which decisions are made but
    also play a critical role in defining the
    strategies of individuals and groups as those
    political actors search for receptive
    decision-makers and decision-making venues.

Policy change
  • Frameworks, theories, and models of the policy
    process, by definition, must account for policy
  • Three of the theories multiple streams,
    punctuated equilibrium and advocacy coalitions
    share a focus on major policy change the
    common-pools theory treats institutional change
  • These three theories point to similar types of
    events and factors that set the stage for major
    policy change dramatic events or crises, changes
    in the governing coalitions, and administrative
    and legislative turnover.

Boundaries and Scope of Inquiry
  • Each of the theories seeks to explain many
    things that is, each has multiple dependent
    variables, and different things are held
  • Different theories vary substantially in the
    content and scope of the explanations they
    provide. Although each focuses on policymaking
    process, each emphasizes different
    characteristics and different actors
  • Most of the theories, with the exception of the
    common-pool resource theory, are relatively
    narrow in scope they focus primarily on
    pre-decision and decision processes.

  • Models make precise assumptions about a limited
    set of parameters and variables.
  • Analysts use models to fix variables at specific
    settings and to explore the outcomes produced
  • Models allow analysts to test specific parts of
  • Situating models within theories and theories
    within frameworks keeps analysts honest, supports
    the scientific enterprise, and encourages the
    cumulation of knowledge. This ideal is rarely met!

  • Multiple and rigorous methods are used to explain
    public policymaking processes
  • The best of theories creatively combine
    qualitative and quantitative approaches
  • A careful and sound theory development is a
    central part of explaining policy process
  • Cumulation of knowledge occurs through research
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