The Importance of Policy Making
Policy-making has been the object of great concerns expressed by many politicians and scientists. The key problem is the ability to solve current problems and future challenges. Framing policy, officials and managers are focused on the practical solutions to certain policy-development challenges. Researching a great range of policies in different fields, scientists develop various theories to understand the issue of policy-making and to improve and simplify this process.
According to a dictionary, policy-making is "the formulation of ideas or plans that are used by an organization or government as a basis for making decisions" (The Collins, 2013).
Policies are formulation and implementation of strategies. Having similar features with rules and instructions, policies create limits for decision- making. Nevertheless, policies and rules are not the same thing. Rules are detailed statements or instructions of desirable and undesirable behavior. Denying thinking, they do not provide freedom of action. For instance, the company's rule "No smoking" means the strict prohibition to smoke in the certain place. On the contrary, policy provides broader discretion, pointing the key strategies (Encyclopedia, n.d.).
Public policies are adopted within government organizations. Developing public policies, officials may solve problems in two different ways. In the first case, executives determine desirable future results and develop policies to achieve them. In the second case, officials cannot find the same way to find solutions. Under these negative circumstances, executives "try to move away from present situations judged as undesirable" (Water Encyclopedia, n.d.).
In business, there are four ways of policy occurrence:
- By management;
- Through appeal;
- From decisions and actions of executives inside companies;
- Policies imposed by outside institutions.
The first way to formulate key strategies is emergence by management. The strategies are closely connected with the objectives of organizations and are written in companies' statutes.
The second way of policies formulation is originated through appeal. An executive appeals to a top-level management for the proper decision. Then, the judgment becomes precedent for analogous decisions in the future practice. The drawback of this method is the possibility to cause the emergence of a range of unwritten and badly planned policies through appeal. The reason for such circumstances is making decisions, based on the personal beliefs, ignoring their wider involvement.
The third way of policy- making is formulation of principles of actions from the decisions of organization's executives. It is common practice to provide real policies different from the declared ones. To illustrate, an organization may have adopted an official policy of its functions on the basis of its merits. In reality, the top priority is given to people and special interest groups that are close to organizations' management. For instance, a Chamber of Commerce supports specific interests of business, facing ecological issues. "Elites sometimes use questionable means in order to achieve their ends, and such influence is often exerted "behind closed doors"(Water Encyclopedia, n.d.).
Hogwood and Gunn distinguish eight stages of policy making: deciding to decide, issue definition, forecasting, setting objectives and priorities, option analysis, policy implementation, monitoring and control, evaluation and review. (qtd. in Politics UK). Nevertheless, Lindblom has a different view of the issue. He argues that policy making is "a complexly interactive process without beginning or end"( qtd. in Politics UK).
Policies are framed at all levels of organizations. At top positions, the range of policies is broader and more restrictive than at low levels of policies hierarchy. The top level of policy- making is a formulation of "political vision into programmes and actions to deliver "outcomes' " on the level of government( A Practical Guide, 2003). In business, the main strategy of the organization is the competitiveness in the marketplace. It can be achieved by the absence of long-term debts and the development of a company through the internal gradual growth. To illustrate, the co-founder of the Polaroid Corporation Edwin Land has adopted a range of wise and progressive policies. The first secret of company's success is the policy of introduction of unique and high-tech product into the market. The second secret is the policy of broad advertisement. The third successful strategy is the introduction of less expensive analogues of new products into the market. This Polaroid's policy- making provided the company's leading posture during several decades (Encyclopedia, n.d. ).
Good policy- making must have such features as forward looking and outward looking. Adopting long-term strategies, officials and managers state certain goals and predict the desirable results. Framing policies, they consider crucial factors and circumstances in the state and on the international level. Policy-making is innovative, flexible, creative, and evidence based. To achieve the desirable result, new approaches are implied. For example, brainstorms increase the effectiveness of the planning process and supply projects with new creative ideas. Experts and stakeholders are invited to deal with the framing policies. Their activities are based on the great variety of scientific researches and information from reliable sources. Successful policy-making is inclusive and joined up. Expecting the feedback, executives consider the requirements of all the individuals influenced by the policy. Viewing the challenge as a whole thing, officials adopt cross cutting goals. Policy-making learns lessons and contributes to successful communication, evaluates its achievements and failures. Analyzing the causes of achievements and failures of previous policies, officials consider these experiences. Implementing policies, communication aspect is involved in the process. The result of the policies are assessed at different stages of the project. Finally, policy-making is constantly reviewed to check its action. All these steps of policy-making process bring projects to desirable outcomes (A Practical Guide, 2003).
A set of techniques may be implied to frame policies. The key issues are clear pre-determined goals, key milestones, time and costs of projects. All these components are regarded in program and project management (A Practical Guide, 2003). Making effective policy requires the constructive dialogue between policy-makers and scientists researching the issue of framing policies. The drawback of this cooperation is that policy- makers and researches work in different fields. Facing challenges, officials and managers solve practical tasks. On the contrary, researches develop theories based on various contradictory conclusions. As a result of these disputes, policy makers can ignore unfavorable advice from a researcher and find another expert supporting desirable strategy .To illustrate, one scientist may claim that the degree of chemical agents in groundwater exceeds the established norms. Ignoring this undesirable statement, officials can find another researcher who has distinct view on the problem (Water Encyclopedia, n.d.). On the other hand, the cooperation between scientists and policy makers is extremely important, providing the effective technologies and solutions for policy issues.
To sum up, policies are basic components of states and companies' management. Simplifying and delegating key decisions, policies impact on a broad range of matters in the contemporary world. Policy-making can be defined as the formulation of ideas or plans used by organizations and governments for making rational decisions. Policy-making is connected with the general strategies of managerial decisions. Policies differ from rules, providing broader discretion. Policy strategies may be framed by four ways: by management, through appeal, from decisions and actions of executives inside companies, and by outside institutions. There are several controversial approaches towards process of policy-making. To illustrate, Hogwood and Gunn distinguish eight stages of policy making: deciding to decide, issue definition, forecasting, setting objectives and priorities, option analysis, policy implementation, monitoring and control, evaluation and review. Nevertheless, Lindblom argues that policy making has not beginning and end .
Policies are framed at all levels of organizations. At top positions, the range of policies is broader and more restrictive, than at low levels of policies hierarchy. Good policy- making is forward looking and outward looking. It is innovative, flexible, creative, and evidence based. Effective policy-making is inclusive, joined up. It learns lessons and contributes to successful communication, evaluates its achievements and failures. Finally, policy-making is constantly reviewed to check its action.
The key issues of the policy-making process are clear pre-determined goals, key milestones, time and costs of projects. All these components are regarded in program and project management. Taking advantage of the contradictory scientific approaches to certain problems, policy makers tend to ignore unfavorable advice and garble scientific researches. Nevertheless, the implementation of innovative technologies is the key to positive outcomes.
Finally, the policy- making is an important component of effective management. Disregarding of this process causes a state of complete confusion, lack of control and disorder. Therefore, policy- making is the indispensible condition of any organization or governments' activities.