Research Handbook of Policy Design

Handbook edited by B. G. Peters and Guillaume Fontaine: “…The difference between policy design and policy making lies in the degree of encompassing consciousness involved in designing, which includes policy formulation, implementation and evaluation. Consequently there are differences in degrees of consciousness within the same kind of activity, from the simplest expression of “non-design”, which refers to the absence of clear intention or purpose, to “re-design”, which is the most common, incremental way to proceed, to “full design”, which suggests the attempt to control all the process by government or some other controlling actor. There are also differences in kind, from program design (at
the micro-level of intervention) to singular policy design, to meta-design when dealing with complex problems that require cross-sectorial coordination. Eventually, there are different forms or expressions (technical, political, ideological) and different patterns (transfer, innovation, accident or experiment) of policy design.
Unlike other forms of design, such as engineering or architecture, policy design exhibits specific features because of the social nature of policy targeting and modulation, which involves humans as objects and subjects with their values, conflicts, and other characteristics (Peters, 2018, p. 5). Thus, policy design is the attempt to integrate different understandings of a policy problem with different conceptions of the policy instruments to be utilized, and the different values according to which a government assess the outcomes pursued by this policy as expected, satisfactory, acceptable, and so forth. Those three components of design – causation, instruments and values – must then be combined to create a coherent plan for intervention. We will define this fourth component of design as “intervention”, meaning that there must be some strategic sense of how to make the newly designed policy work. This component requires not only an understanding of the specific policy being designed but also how that policy will mesh with the array of policies already operating. Thus, there is the need to think about some “meta-design” issues about coordination and coherence, as well as the usual challenges of implementation…(More)”.