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Page 1

UNIT 1 UNDERSTANDING PUBLIC POLICY

Structure

1.0 Learning Outcome

I . l Introduction

1.2 Significant Concepts: Public and Policy

1.3 Nat~~re of Public Policy
1.3.1 Policy-Making and Decision-Making

1.3.2 Policies and Goals

1.3.3 Policy-Making and Planning

1.3.4 Policy Analysis and Policy Advocacy

1.3.5 Policy Analysis and Policy Management

1.4 Public Policy: Scope

1.5 Typologies of Policies

1.6 Policy Inputs, Policy Outputs, and Policy Outcomes

1.7 Significance of Public Policy

1 .8 ' Conclusion

1.9 Key Concepts

1 .10 References and Further Reading

1.11 Activities

LEARNING OUTCOME
After studying this Unit, you should be able to:

o Understarid public policy, and its significance;

Describe the nature, ty~jes, and scope of public policy;

0 Discuss and distinguish between policy, decision, plan, goals, policy analysis, and policy
advocacy; and

e Explain the terms policy input, policy output, and policy outcome.

1.1 INTRODUCTION

'Public Policy', as an academic pursuit emerged in the early 1950s and since then it has been
acquiring new dimensions, and is now attempting to acquire the status of a discipline. As a shldy
of products of government, policy forms a significant component in several social science disciplines
like political science, public administration, economics, and management. So rapid is the academic
growth of public policy that many researchers, teachers, and public administrators now feel that it
is becoining increasingly complex. The disciplines associated with public policy cut right across the
old academic lines of demarcation. Indeed, it is this interdisciplinmy quality, which rnakes the field
of public policy interesting and thought-provoking.

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1 6 Public Policy and Analysis

In this Unit, we will discuss the meaning, nature, scope, types and significance of public policy. In
~lddition, an attempt will bemade to explain the changing conceptualisation of 'public' and 'private'
clomains in the study of public policy.

SIGNIFICANT CONCEPTS: PUBLIC AND POLICY
P ~ ~ b l i c policy is afrequently used term in our daily life and in academic literature, where we often
~nake references to national health policy, education policy, wage policy, agricultural policy, foreign
~x~licy and so on. It is an area, which had to do with those spheres that are labelled as public. The
concept of public policy presupposes that there is a domain of life that is not private or purely

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individual, but common.

I n thc past, studies on public policy were dominated by researchers and students of political I
science. They broadly concentsatedon the institutional stmcture and philosophical justifications of i
the government. The focus was rarely on the policies themselves. Political science was to some
cxtent preoccupied with the activities of the various politjcal institutions and gro~~ps in relation to
theil- success in the pursuit of political powec It hardly secognised the sole, which such orgallisations I
played towards the formation of policy as one of its main concerns. Yet, policy is an important
ele~nent of the political process.

Tlio~nas Dye, a leading scholar of policy analysis, observes, "Traditional (political science) studies
clescribed tlie institutions in which public policy was forrnr~lated. Butunfortunately, the linkages
between important institutional arrangements and the content of public policy were largely
unexplored." He further notes that today the focus of political science is shifting to public policy,
that is, to tlie description and explanation of the causes and consequences of government activity.
While the concern of political science about the processes by which public policy is determined
has increased, most students of public administration would acknowledge that the public servants
the~nselves are intimately involved in the shaping of thepolicies. The study of public administration
has hitherto tended to concentrate on the machinery for the implementation of given policies. It has
altended to the organisation of public a~~thorities, tlie bel~aviour of public servants and increasingly,
the methods of resource allocation, administration and review. With such an approach, it is difficult
to cletennine much about the way policy is formulated, although it is generally contended that the
experience of policy implementation feeds back into the furtherance of the policy-making
pl-ocess. It is an effort to apply political science to public affairs, but has concerns with processes
which are within the t?eldof public administration. Tn brief, past studies onp~tblicpolicy have been
mainly doiiiinated by scholars of political science and public administration and have tended to
concentrate more on the content of policy and the process of its fo~~ilulation andimplementation.
The slctdy of public policy has evolved into what is virtually a new branch of the social science;
i t is called policy science. This concept of policy science was first formulated by Harold Lasswell
in 1951.

i ) The Idea of Public 3
lt is first important to understand the concept of 'public' for a discussion of public policy. We often
use such terms as 'public interest', 'p~~blic sector', 'public opinion', 'p~lblic health', and so on.
'The starting point is that 'public policy' has to do with those spheres, which are so labelled as
'pu biic' as opposed to spheres involving the 'private'. The public dimension is generally referred
to 'public ownership' or control for 'public purpose.' The public sector colnprises that domain of
Iluma~z activity, which is regarded as requiring governmental intervention or comlnon action.
I-lowever, there has always been aconflict between what is public and what is private. W.B. Baber

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Public Policy: l~t~plen~entation Systenz and Models

12.3.2 Bottom-Up Model

Exponents of bottom-up model are of the view that top-down model lacks effective implementation
> in practice. They argue that students of public administration and public policy have to take account %
of the interaction of implementers with their clients. The exponents of the bottom-up approach
therefore, suggest that the implementation process involves 'policy-making' by those who are
i~ivolved in puttingpolicies into effect.

i ) Michael Lipsky: S treet-level Bureaucracy

Michael Lipsky is the founding father of the bottom-up perspective. His analysis of the behavior of
front-line staff in policy delivery agencies- whom he calls 'street level bureaucrats' -has some
ir~fluence on i~nplelnentation studies. The implication of this study is that control over people is not
the mechanism for effective implementation. He argues that the decisions of street-level bureaucrats,
the ro~~tines they establish, and the devices they invent to cope with uncertainties and workpress~ires,
effectively become the public policies they carry out. To cope with the pressures brought on them,
street-level bureaucrats often develop methods of processing people in a relatively routine aild
stereotyped way. According to Lipsky, tlley develop conceptions of their work, and of their
clients that narrow the gap between their p'ersonnel and work limitations, and the service ideal.
Such workers see themselves as cogs in a system, as oppressed by the bureaucracy within which
they work. Yet, they seem to have a great amount of discretiona~y freedom and autonomy. Therefore,
attempts to control them hierarchically simply increases their tendency to stereotype and disregard
the needs of their clients. This means that diverse approaches are needed to secure the accountability
of implementers. These approaches should provide a framework that feeds the expectatiosn of the
clientele into the implementation.

The bottom-up model also sees the implementation process as involving negotiation and consensus
building. These take place in two environments: the administrative capability and cultures of
organisations involved in administering p~~bl ic policy; and the political environment in which they
have to carry out the policies.

In the bottom-up nod el, great stress is laid on the fact that 'street-level' implementers have discretion
in how they apply policy. Professionals, viz. doctors, teachers, engineers, social workers-shape
policy and have an important role in ensuring the performance of a policy. In other words, as
Dunleavy notes, the policy-making process may be skewed by policy implementation, which is
lurgety dominated by the professionals. Doctors, for instance, may deveIop ways of implementing
health policies, which actually result in outcomes that arequite different to the intentions of policy
makers. This is possible because policy implementation involves a high margin of discretion. As
Davis observes, "A public officer has discretion wherever the effective limits on his power leave
him free to make a choice among possible courses of action and inaction". In the discharge of
policy delivery functions, implementers have varying bands of discretion over how they choose to
apply the rules.

12.3.3 Policy-Action Relationship Model

Lewis wdFlynn developed a behavioural model, which views(implementation as action by actors,
that is, coilstrained by the world outside their organisations. Emphasis on interaction with the
outside world, and the organisation's institutional context imply that policy goals are not the only
gl-licles to action. This theme of analysis has also been developed by Barrett and Fudge. They
argue that implementation may be best understood in tenns of a 'policy-action-continum7'in which
an interactive and bargaining process takes place over timk between those who are responsible
for enacting policy and those who have control over resources. In this model, more emphasis is

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172 Public Policy and A~zalysis

placed on issues of power and dependence, and pursuits of interests, than in either the top-down
01. the bottom-up approaches. The policy-action model shows that policy is something that evolves.
As Majone and Wildavsky note, ". . ..implementation will always be evolutionary; it will inevitably
refolmulate as well as carry out policy."

12;3.4 Inter-Organisational Interaction Approach

I~nplementation is also described as a process that involves interactions within a multiplicity of
organisations, In this context, there are two approaches, which are mentioned below.

i) Power-Dependency Approach

According to this approach imnplementation takes place in the context of interaction of organisations.
Such interaction produces power relationships in which organisations can induce other less power.5.11
organisations to interact with them. Those organisations, which depend for their sustenance on
other more resourceful organisations, have to work in such a way as to secure and protect their
interests and maintain their relative autonomy, so that implementation does not suffer.

i i ) Organisational Exchange Approach

This view holds that organisations collaborate with their counterparts for mutual benefit. Whereas
in the power-dependency approach; the organisational relations are based on dominance and
dependence, interaction in the organisational exchange approach is based on exchange for mutual
benefit.

Adapting a bottom-up approach Hjern and Porter argue that implementation should be analysed
in terms of institutional stmctures, which comprise clusters of actors and organisations. A programme
is not implemented by a single organisation, but through aset of organisational pools. They observe
that failure to identify implementation structures as administrative entities distinct from organisations
has led to severe difficulties in administering the implementation of programmes.

Irnplernentation of programmes, which requires a matrix or multiplicity of organisations, gives rise
to a complex pattern of interactions that top-down frameworks fail to recognise. Consequently,
these approaches do not satisfactorily explain implementation, and in practice programmes based
on their application yield little success.

12.3.5 A Synthesis of .Bottom-up and Top-Down Approaches

The policy implementation is the continuation of the policy-making process. To Sabatier and
Mazmanian, implementation and policy-making are one and the same process. They attempt a
synthesis of the ideas of both top-down and bottom-up approaches into a set of six conditions for
the effective implementation of policy objectives. These conditions are:

i) clear and consistent objectives to provide a standard of legal evaluation and resource;

ii) adequate causal theory, thus ensuring that the policy has an accurate theoiy of how to bring
change;

iii) implementation structures that are legally structured so as to enhance the compliance of those
charged with implementing the policy and of those groups that are the target of the policy;

iv) committed and skilful impIementers who apply themselves to using their discretion so as to
realise policy objectives ; ' .

v) support of interest groups and sovereigns in the legislature and executive; and

vi) changes in socio-economic conditions that do not undermine the support of groups and
sovereigns or subvert the causal theory underpinningthe policy.

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326 Public Policy and Analysis

Broadband : In telecomm~~nications broadband refers to a signal or circuit, which
includes or handles arelatively wide range of frequencies. It is a relative
term, understood according to its context. In data communications, a
modem will transmit a bandwidth of 64 Kilobits per second (KbitIS)
over a telephone line; over the same telephone line a bandwidth of several
megabits per second can be handled by ADSL, which is described as ,
broadband.

Broadband
Connectivity

Spectrum

Teledensity

: It has been defined as "Always on" with minimum speed of 256 Kbps.

: It is a scarce natural resource, which needs to be allocated in ways that
maxirnise its economic value. The recent trend in telecommunications is
towards mobility, for which radio frequency spectrum is one of the
essential ingredients.

: It is the number of landline telephones in use for every 100 individuals
living within an area. A teledensity greater than 100 means there are
inore telephones than people in the specified area.

REFERENCES AND FURTHER READING
Alagarsamy, G,, 2001, "Telecom Regulatory Refot-ms: As a Key to Network growth in the Indian
Context: An Economic Perspective", IIPA, New Delhi (Unp~lblished).

"BSNL gearing up to offer satphones in 14 villages", The Ecorzonzic Times, 20 June, 2006, New
Delhi. z

Conzi~zunicatioiz Today, Annual issue 2005, Wind Rover, Bangalore.

Gairola, Manoj, "C-DOT likely to tie up with Bell for new technologies", The Econonzic Times, "B
28 April, 2006, New Delhi.

Gairola, Manoj, "Telcos may bear new FDI norms soon", The Economic Times, 12 June 2006,
New Delhi.

Government of India, 2004-05,2005-06Annual Reports, Department of Telecornrnunications,
New Delhi. s

Government of India,.2004-05, Annual Report, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, New
Delhi.

Government of India, Ministly of Finance, Economic Division, Economic Survey, 2005-2006. a

Government of India, Report of the High Level Committee on Reorganisation of Telecom I
Department, March 199 1.

Government of India, The Telecorn Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997 [As Amended by
TRAI (Amendment) Act, 20001. I

Goyal, Surabhi, "Broadband - A Changing Face of India, The Indian Journal of Public
Admirzistration October-December, 2004, IIPA, New Delhi. 1
Jain, Rekha, "A Review of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's Tariff and Inconnection .
Regulation", 2004, India Infrastructure Report 2004 Ensuring Value for Money, Oxford I
University Press, New Delhi.

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Te1econ.l Policy: A Case Stz~cly of lrzdia 3 27

Jain, Rekha, "Review of Policy Changes in the Indian Telecom Sector", Indian Institute of
Management, Ahmedabad, at rekha @iii~zalzd. ernet. in.

Mittal, Poona~n and Shahid Ashraf, "Pricing of Services to ~ o ~ s u m e r s and the Need for Competitive
Market: A Case S t~~dy of India's Telecom Sector", The Incliaiz Journal oj'Puhlic Adinir~is~atlorz,
January-March 2006, IIPA, New Delhi.

Pratap, Rashmi, "VSNL plans to provide ICT services", The Economic Tinzcs, 13 June 2006,
New Delhi.

Rajendran, M., "Consultant to help in U S 0 funduse for rx~ral connect", Hindustan Tirizes, May 2,
2006, New Delhi.

Rajendran, M., "Indiareacl~es, but China runs", Hindustan Tinzes, June 8,2006, New Delhi.

Shanna, Sanchita, "Vision goes hi-tech in lural Tamil Nadu", Hindustan Times, June 8,2006,
New Dellli,

"Telecorn growth good, Challenges ahead", HTBusiness, Febivary 28,2006, New Delhi.

"The C-DOT Baby Matures", Teleinatics Iizdia, September, 1992.

"What's New in the Market", 2006, tele.net,.Vol. 7 No. 1.

24.8 ACT E S

1) ':The two Public Sector Undertakings, that is, BSNL and MTNL, have been losing their
market shares in fixed telephony."Explain the above statement on the basis of your study and
observation.

2) Critically evaluate the impact of Bharat Nir~nun Yojana, especially in the context of rural
telephony. Cite examples of social and economic impact of 11011-availability of telecom services
in a pasticulal- rural area.

3) Explain the %actors behind the significant growth in broadband connectivity within a shore
time.

4) Review the telecom policies, and highlight the effects.of psivatisation on increase in operational
efficiency.

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