Policy-making: Actors, institutions and processes

9-11 September 2019 | Executive MPA seminar

Public policies are governmental activities addressing societal problems. Public policy making is therefore closely linked to the idea of problem-solving. This problem solving, however, is situated in a political setting shaped by divergent interests, power games and inherent uncertainty about the future. How public policies are designed and implemented is therefore shaped by the interaction of a variety of actors pursuing their specific interests. Policy analysis is about the link between politics and problem-solving (policy).

This course introduces analytical perspectives – derived from the so-called policy cycle – to systematically discuss the process of policy making under these conditions. It also introduces policy analysis as an applied field of study that seeks to draw on analytical tools to inform the design, implementation and evaluation of public policies. A particular emphasis is put on the different ‘policy instruments’ (such as coercion, incentives and information) that governments may use to shape the behaviour of a particular target population.

The key competence for policy-makers conveyed in this course is a) to understand how political processes shape policy making, i.e. how interaction between (self-interested) actors influence policy design and implementation as well as the final outcome of policies and b) how policy analysis can aid the improvement of public policy and governance under these conditions. The course aims at providing a general toolkit, which participants can use in diverse situations. It should also be an occasion for a theory-guided self-reflection about participants’ past experiences in the policy-process. The course deals with foundational concepts and debates that are at the core of public policy as a field of practice and research.

This seminar is offered as part of the Executive MPA programme. It can be customised for organisational clients. Learn more.