Policy & Politics
Advancing knowledge in public and social policy

Conceptualising policy design in the policy process

View author details View Less
  • 1 Syracuse University, USA
  • | 2 University of Miami, USA
Restricted access
Get eTOC alerts
Rights and permissions Cite this article

The study of policy design has been of long-standing interest to policy scholars. Recent surveys of policy design scholarship acknowledge two main pathways along which it has developed; one in which the process of policy designing is emphasised and one in which the output of this policy designing process – for example, policy content – is emphasised. As part of a survey of extant research, this article discusses how scholars guided by different orientations to studying policy design are addressing and measuring common policy design concepts and themes, and offers future research opportunities. The article also provides a platform for considering how insights stemming from different orientations of policy design research can be integrated and mapped within the broader public policy process. Finally, the article raises the question of whether a framework that links different conceptualisations of policy design within the policy process might help to advance the field.

  • Bobrow, D.B. and Dryzek, J.S. (1987) Policy Analysis by Design, Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press.

  • Bouma, J.A., Verbraak, M., Dietz, F. and Brouwer, R. (2019) Policy mix: mess or merit?, Journal of Environmental Economics and Policy, 8(1): 3247.  doi: 10.1080/21606544.2018.1494636

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bressers, H.T.A. and O’Toole Jr, L.J. (1998) The selection of policy instruments: a Network-based perspective, Journal of Public Policy, 18(3): 21339. doi: 10.1017/S0143814X98000117

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Capano, G. and Howlett, M. (2020) The knowns and unknowns of policy instrument analysis: policy tools and the current research agenda on policy mixes, Sage Open, 10(1): 2158244019900568. doi: 10.1177/2158244019900568

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Capano, G. and Howlett, M. (2021) Causal logics and mechanisms in policy design: how and why adopting a mechanistic perspective can improve policy design, Public Policy and Administration, 36(2): 14162. doi: 10.1177/0952076719827068

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Carter, D.P., Weible, C.M., Siddiki, S.N. and Basurto, X. (2016) Integrating core concepts from the institutional analysis and development framework for the systematic analysis of policy designs: an illustration from the US National Organic Program regulation, Journal of Theoretical Politics, 28(1): 15985. doi: 10.1177/0951629815603494

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Clarke, A. and Craft, J. (2019) The twin faces of public sector design, Governance, 32(1): 521. doi: 10.1111/gove.12342

  • Crawford, S.E.S. and Ostrom, E. (1995) A grammar of institutions, American Political Science Review, 89(3): 582600. doi: 10.2307/2082975

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Crawford, S.E.S. and Ostrom, E. (2005a) Classifying rules, in E. Ostrom (ed) Understanding Institutional Diversity, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, pp 13774.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Crawford, S.E.S. and Ostrom, E. (2005b) A grammar of institutions, in E. Ostrom (ed) Understanding Institutional Diversity, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, pp 186216.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Curley, C., Feiock, R. and Xu, K. (2020) Policy analysis of instrument design: How policy design affects policy constituency, Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis: Research and Practice, 22(6): 53657. doi: 10.1080/13876988.2020.1749517

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Curley, C., Harrison, N. and Federman, P. (2021a) Comparing motivations for including enforcement in US COVID-19 State executive orders, Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis: Research and Practice, 23(2): 191203. doi: 10.1080/13876988.2021.1880871

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Curley, C., Harrison, N., Kewei Xu, C. and Zhou, S. (2021b) Collaboration mitigates barriers of utility ownership on policy adoption: evidence from the United States, Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 64(1): 12444. doi: 10.1080/09640568.2020.1755241

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • DeLeon, P. (1999) The stages approach to the policy process: what has it done? Where is it going?, in P.A. Sabatier (ed) Theories of the Policy Process, Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Deslatte, A. and Swann, W.L. (2016) Is the price right? Gauging the marketplace for local sustainable policy tools, Journal of Urban Affairs, 38(4): 58196.  doi: 10.1111/juaf.12245

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Diem, S. and Boske, C. (2012) Introduction: advancing leadership for social justice in a globalized world, in C. Boske and S. Diem (eds) Global Leadership for Social Justice: Taking it from the Field to Practice, Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing Ltd, pp xvxix.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dorst, K. (2011) The core of ‘design thinking’ and its application, Design Studies, 32(6): 52132. doi: 10.1016/j.destud.2011.07.006

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dryzek, J. (1983) Don’t toss coins in garbage cans: a prologue to policy design, Journal of Public Policy, 3(4): 34567. doi: 10.1017/S0143814X00007510

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dunlop, C.A., Kamkhai, J.C. and Radaelli, C.M. (2019) A sleeping giant awakes? The rise of the institutional grammar tool (IGT) in policy research, Journal of Chinese Governance, 4(2): 16380. doi: 10.1080/23812346.2019.1575502

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dunn, W.N. (2018) Stage ‘Theories’ of the policy process, in the Handbook on Policy, Process, and Governing, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, pp 11230.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Edelenbos, J. (1999) Design and management of participatory public policy making, Public Management an International Journal of Research and Theory, 1(4): 56976. doi: 10.1080/14719039900000027

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Feiock, R.C. and Kim, S. (2021) The political market and sustainability policy, Sustainability, 13(6): 3344. doi: 10.3390/su13063344

  • Feiock, R.C., Weible, C.M., Carter, D.P., Curley, C., DeSlatte, A. and Heikkila, T. (2016) Capturing structural and functional diversity through institutional analysis: the mayor position in city charters, Urban Affairs Review, 52(1): 12950. doi: 10.1177/1078087414555999

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Frantz, C.K. and Siddiki, S. (2021) Institutional grammar 2.0: a specification for encoding and analysing institutional design, Public Administration, 99(2): 126. doi: 10.1111/padm.12675

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Garcia, M., Koebele, E., DeSlatte, A., Ernst, K., Manago, K.F. and Treuer, G. (2019) Towards Urban water sustainability: analysing management transitions in Miami, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles, Global Environmental Change, 58: 124.  doi: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2019.101967

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Haelg, L., Sewerin, S. and Schmidt, T.S. (2019) The role of actors in the policy design process: introducing design coalitions to explain policy output, Policy Sciences, 53: 30947. doi: 10.1007/s11077-019-09365-z

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Heikkila, T. and Weible, C.M. (2018) A semiautomated approach to analysing Polycentricity, Environmental Policy and Governance, 28(4): 30818. doi: 10.1002/eet.1817

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Heikkila, T., Weible, C.M., Oloffson, K.L., Kagan, J.A., You, J. and Yordy, J. (2021) The structure of environmental governance: how public policies connect and partition California’s oil and gas policy landscape, Journal of Environmental Management, 284: 112069.  doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2021.112069

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hood, C. (1983) The Tools of Governments, Basingstoke: Macmillan.

  • Howlett, M. (2020) Challenges in applying design thinking to public policy: dealing with the varieties of policy formulation and its vicissitudes, Policy & Politics, 48(1): 4965.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Howlett, M. and Lejano, R.P. (2013) Tales from the crypt: the rise and fall (and rebirth?) of policy design, Administration & Society, 45(3): 35781. doi: 10.1177/0095399712459725

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Howlett, M. and Mukherjee, I. (2017) Policy design: from tools to patches, Canadian Public Administration, 60(1): 140. doi: 10.1111/capa.12209

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Howlett, M. and Rayner, R. (2018) Coherence, congruence, and consistency, Howlett, M. and Mukherjee, I. (eds) Handbook of Policy Design, Abingdon: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Howlett, M., Ramesh, M. and Capano, G. (2020) Policy-makers, policy-takers and policy tools: dealing with behaviourial issues in policy design, Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis: Research and Practice, 22(6): 48797. doi: 10.1080/13876988.2020.1774367

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Huber, J.D. and Shipan, C.R. (2002) Deliberate Discretion: The Institutional Foundations of Bureaucratic Autonomy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Iskander, N. (2018) Design thinking is fundamentally conservative and preserves the status quo, Harvard Business Review, 5.

  • Justen, A., Fearnley, N., Givoni, M. and Macmillen, J. (2013a) A process for designing policy packaging: ideals and realities, Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, 60: 918.  doi: 10.1016/j.tra.2013.10.016

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Justen, A., Schippl, J., Lenz, B. and Fleischer, T. (2013b) Assessment of policies and detection of unintended effects: guiding principles for the consideration of methods and tools in policy packaging, Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, 60: 1930.  doi: 10.1016/j.tra.2013.10.015

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Katz, D.M. and Bonmarito II, M.J. (2014) Measuring the complexity of the law: the United States Code, Artificial Intelligence Law, 22: 33774.  doi: 10.1007/s10506-014-9160-8

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Koski, C. and Siddiki, S. (2021) Linking policy design, change, and outputs: policy responsiveness in American state electricity policy, Policy Studies Journal, Online first.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Krause, R.M., Hawkins, C.V., Park, A.Y. and Feiock, R.C. (2019) Drivers of policy instrument selection for environmental management by local governments, Public Administration Review, 79(4): 47787. doi: 10.1111/puar.13025

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Linder, S.H. and Peters, B.G. (1984) From social theory to policy design, Journal of Public Policy, 4(3): 23759. doi: 10.1017/S0143814X0000221X

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Linder, S.H. and Peters, B.G. (1989) Instruments of government: perceptions and contexts, Journal of Public Policy, 9(1): 3558.  doi: 10.1017/S0143814X00007960

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Linder, S.H. and Peters, B.G. (1991) The logic of public policy design: linking policy actors and plausible instruments, Knowledge in Society, 4:  12551. 

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Maurya, D. (2018) Contracting out: making it work, Policy Design and Practice, 1(4): 28197. doi: 10.1002/pam.21836.

  • May, P.J. (1991) Reconsidering policy design: policies and publics, Journal of Public Policy, 11(2): 187206. doi: 10.1017/S0143814X0000619X

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • May, P.J. (2003) Policy design and implementation, in B.G. Peters and J. Pierre (eds) Handbook of Public Administration, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, pp 223, 233.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McDonnell, L.M. and Elmore, R.F. (1987) Getting the job done: alternative policy instruments, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 9(2): 13352. doi: 10.3102/01623737009002133

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mintrom, M. and Luetjens, J. (2016) Design thinking in policymaking processes: opportunities and challenges, Australian Journal of Public Administration, 75(3): 391402. doi: 10.1111/1467-8500.12211

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mondou, M. and Montpetit, E. (2010) Policy styles and degenerative politics: poverty policy designs in newfoundland and quebec, Policy Studies Journal, 38(4): 70322. doi: 10.1111/j.1541-0072.2010.00380.x

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mosher, F.C. (1980) The changing responsibilities and tactics of the federal government, Public Administration Review, 40(6): 54148. doi: 10.2307/3110305

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Newig, J. and Fritsch, O. (2009) Environmental governance: participatory, multi‐level – and effective?, Environmental Policy and Governance, 19(3): 197214. doi: 10.1002/eet.509

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Olejniczak, K., Śliwowski, P. and Leeuw, F. (2020) Comparing behavioral assumptions of policy tools: framework for policy designers, Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis: Research and Practice, 22(6): 498520. doi: 10.1080/13876988.2020.1808465

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ostrom, E. (2005) Understanding Institutional Diversity, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

  • Peters, B.G. (2020) Designing institutions for designing policy, Policy & Politics, 48(1): 13147.

  • Pitts, D.W. (2011) A little less conversation, a little more action: using empirical research to promote social equity, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 21(1): i77i82. doi: 10.1093/jopart/muq071

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rice, D., Siddiki, S., Frey, S., Kwon, J.H. and Sawyer, A. (2021) Machine coding policy texts with the institutional grammar, Public Administration, 99(2): 24862. doi: 10.1111/padm.12711

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rogge, K.S. and Reichardt, K. (2016) Policy mixes for sustainability transitions: An extended concept and framework for analysis, Research Policy, 45(8): 162035. doi: 10.1016/j.respol.2016.04.004

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rowe, P.G. (1987) Design Thinking, Cambridge, MA: MIT press.

  • Salamon, L.M. (1981) Rethinking public management: third party government and the changing forms of government action, Public Policy, 29(3): 25575.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Salamon, L.M. (2002) The Tools of Government: A Guide to the New Governance, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Schaffrin, A., Sewerin, S. and Seubert, S. (2015) Toward a comparative measure of climate policy output, Policy Studies Journal, 43(2): 25782.  doi: 10.1111/psj.12095

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Schlager, E.C., Bakkensen, L.A., Olivier, T. and Hanlon, J. (2021) Institutional design for a complex commons: variations in the design of credible commitments and the provision of public goods, Public Administration, 99(2): 26389. doi: 10.1111/padm.12715

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Schmidt, T.S. and Sewerin, S. (2019) Measuring the temporal dynamics of policy mixes: an empirical analysis of renewable energy policy mixes’ balance and design features in nine countries, Research Policy, 48(10): 103557. doi: 10.1016/j.respol.2018.03.012

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Schneider, A. and Ingram, H. (1988) Systematically pinching ideas: a comparative approach to policy design, Journal of Public Policy, 8(1): 6180. doi: 10.1017/S0143814X00006851

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Schneider, A. and Ingram, H. (1997) Policy Design for Democracy, Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas Press.

  • Schneider, A.L. and Ingram, H. (2005) Deserving and Entitled: Social Constructions and Public Policy, New York: State University of New York.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Scott, T. (2015) Does collaboration make any difference? Linking collaborative governance to environmental outcomes, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 34(3): 53766. 10.1002/pam.21836

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Scott, T.A. and Thomas, C.W. (2015) Unpacking the collaborative toolbox: why and when do public managers choose collaborative governance strategies?, Policy Studies Journal, 45(1): 191214. doi: 10.1111/psj.12162

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Shaffer, R. (Forthcoming) Power in text: implementing networks and institutional complexity in American law, The Journal of Politics.

  • Siddiki, S. (2014) Assessing policy design and interpretation: an institutions‐based analysis in the context of aquaculture in Florida and Virginia, United States, Review of Policy Research, 31(4): 281303. doi: 10.1111/ropr.12075

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Siddiki, S. (2020) Understanding and Analyzing Public Policy Design, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Siddiki, S. and Frantz, C.K. (2019) Understanding the effects of social value orientations in shaping regulatory outcomes through agent based modeling: an application to organic farming, Presented at the Workshop on the Workshop Conference. Bloomington, Indiana, 19–20 June, 2019.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Siddiki, S.N., Weible, C.M., Basurto, X. and Calanni, J. (2011) Dissecting policy designs: an application of the institutional grammar tool, Policy Studies Journal, 39(1): 79103. doi: 10.1111/j.1541-0072.2010.00397.x

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sidney, M. (2007) Policy formulation: design and tools, in F. Fischer, G. Miller, M. Sidney (eds) Handbook of Public Policy Analysis: Theory, Politics and Methods, New Brunswick, NJ: CRC Taylor & Francis, pp 7987.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • van Buuren, A., Lewis, J.M., Peters, B.G. and Voorberg, W. (2020) Improving public policy and administration: exploring the potential of design, Policy & Politics, 48(1): 319.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Van Slyke, D.M. (2009) Collaboration and relational contracting, in R. O’Leary and L.B. Bingham (eds) The Collaborative Public Manager, Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press,  pp 13756.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • VanSickle-Ward, R. (2014) The Devil is in the Details: Understanding the Causes of Policy Specificity and Ambiguity, Albany, NY: SUNY Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Vedung, E. (1998) Policy instruments: typologies and theories, in M.L. Bemelmans-Videc, R.C. Rist and E. Vedung (eds) Carrots, Sticks, and Sermons: Policy Instruments and Their Evaluation, New York: Routledge, pp 2158. 

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Weible, C.M. and Carter, D.P. (2015) The composition of policy change: comparing Colorado’s 1977 and 2006 smoking bans, Policy Sciences, 48L(2): 20731.  doi: 10.1007/s11077-015-9217-x

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Weimer, D.L. (1993) The current state of design craft: borrowing, tinkering, and problem solving, Public Administration Review, pp  11020. doi: 10.2307/976703

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 1 Syracuse University, USA
  • | 2 University of Miami, USA

Content Metrics

May 2022 onwards Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 434 433 76
Full Text Views 116 116 5
PDF Downloads 121 121 9

Altmetrics

Dimensions