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Allow me to be start this paper by commenting that prior to reading the Pal and Brook text I had a very limited amount of knowledge with respect to the Politics of Public Administration, Policy Analysis as a discipline and Public Policy. The reading of the text was at times difficult, however after detailing notes and reviewing the material at length it eventually made sense and began to fit together in the over view of my political science studies. In this paper, I will attempt to critic Leslie A. Pal's book, Beyond Policy Analysis while concentrating on the Rational Decision-Making Model and incorporate some of the thoughts presented in Stephen Brooks' book, Public Policy in Canada-An Introduction.
For over fifty years the Rational Decision-Making Model has been at the heart of what people do when conducting policy analysis and for that same amount of time it has been criticized and challenged. (Pal, p. 20) The Rational Decision-Making Model has as its steps; an emphasis on determining goals, developing options, selecting & designing a preferred option, implementing and evaluating. Many of the criticisms of the Rational Decision-Making Model are come from critics both external and internal to the discipline of policy analysis, with each having its own validity. To be able to understand the Rational Decision -Making Model and its usage in policy analysis I will begin by first putting for the definition and over view of what Policy Analysis is and then detailing each step of the Rational Decision-Making Model and the critics of it.
Pal begins his text by putting forth the statement that Public Policy Analysis is in trouble. (Pal, p.1) Upon analyzing the text I tend to agree with him as not only do his arguments, and the similar arguments of Brooks, make sense in the context of the writing, but I myself can envision the problems that public policy analysis will be presented with in the future as the past factors that have caused a re-evaluation of Political Analysis continue to cultivate. Chapter 2 of the text speaks of these at great length and they are: Goverence is changing, globalization, Information Technologies, diverse societies; smaller governments that do less and allow the markets to dictate and global systems; and, the discipline field itself, was a postwar phenomenon that today appears as a weapon in the struggle for political advantage and the public questions the result of many policies. (pg x, Pal) To clarify, Public Policy, as defined by Pal, is a course of action chosen by public aut!
horities to address a given problem or inter-related set of problems. Whereas, Thomas Dye (1984, p.1-as quoted in Pal p.4) calls it "whatever government chooses to do or not to do", Howards Lasswall (1951 p.5) calls it "the most important choices". The several definitions sited here all have choices as their key element. The Rational Decision-Making Model of is the model that must be used, even if generally, for each problem/choice before a response can be articulated to respond to that problem. "Policy or strategy is formulated consciously, preferably analytically and made explicit, and then implemented formally". (Mintzberg & Jorgensen, 1987, p.219) (Pal, p. 4.)
The Rational Decision-Making Model is a seven step model of decision making that is meant as a standard to allow decision makers to think logically and rationally when forming a decision, and in this case public policy. It is built on many assumptions. Several being: problems and objectives are clear, people agree o
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Names referenced in this research paper
Leslie A. Pal, Lindblom, Stephen Brooks, Charles Lindblom, Stephen; Public, Herbert Simon, Len Karakowsky, Carol Weiss, Mintzberg, Stone, Thomas Dye, Howards Lasswall, Jorgensen, Lindbolm, Karakowsky, Janawitz, Thompson, Dryzek, Torgerson,
Organizations referenced in this essay
Public Administration, Federal Liberal Party,
Locations mentioned in this report
Canada, Smithburg, United States,
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