8.3.1 Some models for the policy formulation process
8.3.2 Relevant exercises
The level at which policy decisions are taken (e.g. by officials, minister(s), the cabinet or president) is in part determined by the intrinsic importance of the particular policy issue in question. However, other aspects are important as well and include: where (organisationally) new ideas influencing policy are generated; which organisation(s) plays the lead role, who evaluates alternatives and formal proposals for policy changes, and the extent to which each organisation formally involved is given a genuine opportunity to influence outcomes.
Numerous actors may be involved in the policy formulation process. Actors will often have their own roles to play in this process and their own agendas for action. Actors in the livestock policy formulation process may include: policy implementers (e.g. officials in the veterinary, extension or livestock marketing services), planning or policy analysis units, academicians, major donors and special interest (pressure) groups. The interplay between these actors, and their relative "power" base in the policy formulation and implementation hierarchy, can have major impacts on policy change in terms of, for example:
· the extent to which implementers of policy feel a sense of commitment to policy change
· the expertise available for policy analysis
· the degree to which policy proposals take a wide, national rather than a narrow, sectarian point of view
· the political, bureaucratic and financial support for new proposals, regardless of their intrinsic merit.
Figures 8.1-8.5 show alternative models of the policy formulation process. Each model gives a central position to a different actor, relegating other actors to subordinate roles or to the sidelines. Each model reflects, in exaggerated form, the policy formulation process observed in some African countries. All are based on a common set of assumptions:
· an overall national interest can be defined, legitimised and gain commitment
· rational solutions emerge from thought and discussion
· there is a general expectation that policy decisions will be implemented in practice
· policy makers welcome, rather than punish, dispassionate advice and information
· the zeal with which policy commands are executed is fairly independent of the precise process leading to the commands' issue.
Figure 8.1. Model J: The economist's dream.
Figure 8.2. Model K: The populist's dream.
Exercise 8.1: Group Exercise: Matching institutional models to reality and identifying characteristics determining effective performance.
The group should consider the models presented in Figures 8.1-8.5 in terms of the characteristics of effective processes of policy formulation and the basic assumptions underlying all models. The answers to the questions below should be presented at a plenary session.
Exercise: (estimated time required: 2 hours including plenary).
Question 1. Which model (J-N) best fits your country or countries in your region? If none fits well, describe a more realistic one, defining where policy ideas come from, who makes formal proposals, who decides and who implements.
Question 2. What are the advantages/disadvantages of each model?
Question 3. Examine the assumptions underlying models J-N. Are they valid in your country and region?
Figure 8.3. Model L: The director of livestock's dream.