Hogwood - Chapter 7

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Published on 20 Nov 2011
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WEEK 4 READINGS
Hogwood and Gunn, Policy Analysis for the Real World, Chapter 7
- Issue Definition: how an issue is recognized, placed on the public policy agenda,
and further explored
- How an issue is defined will affect and influence later processes of policy making
such as setting objectives, identifying relevant options, policy monitoring and
evaluating etc.
- An incomplete definition is more dangerous than a wrong definition leading to
insufficient analysis and concluding a wrong solution. The end result is no one is
certain of what the actual problem is.
- Inadequate issue definition occurs in anything related to crises or issues with
intense political pressure that needs an immediate response
- What policy makers define as problems are influenced by their values, ethics,
standards, beliefs and these will contribute their impact on policy making
- Yet each individual, groups, or interested parties may perceive the same thing
differently according to their concerns and perspectives
- Difficult to control the timing of a decision. Policy makers need to balance
between avoid adopting a premature definition of an issue and over analyzing the
problem which can create further problems
- Delays frequently happen in arriving to a corporate view of an issue
- Over the years, various groups/organization representing working wives, single-
parent families, children in poverty, global warming, unemployment etc. tried to
draw society towards the attention of the specific group’s “issue”
- Unfortunately they have failed to achieve success until political leaders/politicians
or specific legal/financial officials expressed their concerns for it.
- The major problem surrounding policy makers: So many people are involved in
the process of policy making (i.e. issue search, issue filtration, and issue
definition), in which they all have different values. Whose values should be taken
into consideration? Whose perception is better? What should or should not be put
on the policy agenda?
- Certain issues “appear” to be more severe and most likely given the label of
“social problems” because an important official, or powerful influential group
perceives it as so
- These individuals are then able to define them in terms of social convention and
in some cases, turn them into laws.
- One way to limit the bias in one’s own perception of a problem is to identify and
generate alternative ways of framing the problem
- Politicians and senior officials are interested not only at the symptoms of the
problem but more in the consequences of the problem, and the demands society
will make upon the policy makers (i.e. the scale and intensity related,
characteristics, seriousness, scale of change of the problem, contingency plans)
- Focus will now be placed upon the outcome of identifying an issue, and
predicting what it will develop into in the future
- It is important to remember few issues will ever be fully, finally, or authoratively
defined. The issue will change over time because of our changing perceptions,
new facts, or a combination of both.
- It is necessary for policy makers to continuously undertake a full-scale review of
the problem, its feedback, trends, or opportunities, and decide if appropriate
refining is needed.
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Document Summary

Hogwood and gunn, policy analysis for the real world, chapter 7. Issue definition: how an issue is recognized, placed on the public policy agenda, and further explored. How an issue is defined will affect and influence later processes of policy making such as setting objectives, identifying relevant options, policy monitoring and evaluating etc. An incomplete definition is more dangerous than a wrong definition leading to insufficient analysis and concluding a wrong solution. The end result is no one is certain of what the actual problem is. Inadequate issue definition occurs in anything related to crises or issues with intense political pressure that needs an immediate response. What policy makers define as problems are influenced by their values, ethics, standards, beliefs and these will contribute their impact on policy making. Yet each individual, groups, or interested parties may perceive the same thing differently according to their concerns and perspectives. Difficult to control the timing of a decision.

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