Public policy actors view success differently, and it matters

Abstract:

Literature tells us there are many dimensions of public policy success, and different actors in the policy process will likely focus on different dimensions. This paper asks how different actors in the policy process view policy success, and how much their views differ. It finds evidence that actors devising policy plans— designers—view success narrowly, as achieving near-term, programmed goals; whereas other actors involved in advocating for, authorizing, and implementing policies have a broader success perspective, paying more attention to non-program criteria like long-term impact, distributional and endurance success, and intertemporal gains that manifest in the way policies grow capability, political support, stakeholder satisfaction, and process legitimacy. Such finding raises a question about how policy objectives are determined when actors disagree, given that literature also tells us that policies are more likely to succeed when actors agree on what success is and how to achieve it.

CID Faculty Working Paper Series: 418