Complexity, Institutions and Public Policy
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Complexity, Institutions and Public Policy

Agile Decision-Making in a Turbulent World

Graham Room

Graham Room argues that conventional approaches to the conceptualisation and measurement of social and economic change are unsatisfactory. As a result, researchers are ill-equipped to offer policy advice. This book offers a new analytical approach, combining complexity science and institutionalism.
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Postscript: Tools for Policy-Makers

Graham Room


This Postscript offers a practical guide for agile policy-making, rooted in the conceptual, methodological and policy approaches developed through the preceding chapters. Policy toolkits abound. Among contributions from academics, Bardach (2005), for example, offers a toolkit for policy analysts. His ‘eight-fold path’ includes the following steps: ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● Define the problem Assemble some evidence Construct the alternatives Select the criteria Project the outcomes Confront the trade-offs Decide Tell your story. It would not be particularly useful to work our way through each of these steps, assessing their appropriateness and limitations. Suffice to say, however, that Bardach’s toolkit is geared more to the policy-maker who, in the language of Chapter 1, is on a stable putting green, rather than a bouncy castle. Toolkits developed by organisational consultants and geared to policy practitioners are also plentiful. Heijden (1996) is one of the most widely cited. This treats organisations as complex adaptive systems, seeking to survive and prosper in uncertain and often turbulent conditions. It is addressed to business leaders but it has also been widely deployed for public policy development. We might summarise Heijden’s advice in terms of three injunctions: ● Identify and nurture your organisational strengths Heijden asks an organisation to be clear as to the distinctive competencies which provide it with competitive advantage. This is, however, set in a dynamic context: the organisation must discover how, within the specific circumstances it faces, these competencies 306 M2650 - ROOM TEXT.indd 306 16/06/2011 10:36 Postscript: Tools for policy-makers 307 ● ● can produce self-reinforcing cycles that...

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