Foundations Of Public Policy Research And Methods

Public policies can be defined as the decision taken by government in order to achieve certain goals and objectives formulated for the welfare of its people. Implementing and formulating the policies decided are based on a properly oriented pattern. In other words the associated government agencies should be able to observe a well defined relation between the policies implemented and formulated in order to decide the course of their activities (Peters, 2015). The following points further emphasize upon the meaning and characteristics of public policy.

  1. Goal oriented: The public policies defined by different organizations are formulated on the basis of a certain goal or are planned keeping in mind a particular goal which will be beneficial for the people of the country. These policies illustrate the different programmes of the government and its concern towards different segments (Pierce, Peterson, & Hicks, 2017).

  2. Public policies also reflect the decisions and thoughts of government. It indicates the government’s perspective towards existing policies and also leads to framing of new law and orders, ordinances etc.

  3. Another significant characteristic of public policy is that it depicts the interest and concern of government to a scrupulous issue of the masses.

Features of public policy making

Besides discussing characteristics of public policy making, here a brief discussion of different features of public policy making is presented.

  1. The process of public policy making is a very intricate one. The process includes different components which are able to communicate with each other and employ different methods for communicating with each other.

  2. The public policy making process is continuous process. It involves different activities that are continuously working in a structure. The process also exhibits dynamicity due to its dependence on time, different sub-processes and stages allied etc.

  3. There are different components of policy making. Each of these components has their own contribution, values, restrictions or special conditions and issues. Thus before planning any policy it is necessary that these factors should be considered carefully.

  4. Variation in contribution of different policy structures. This feature of the policy making indicates that the different components of policy making impose their own contribution to the policy formulated.

  5. The process of policy making imposes different guidelines which are to be followed.

  6. One of the most significant features of policy making is its association with future. This feature of policy making presents numerous elements of uncertainty which is actually the basic tone of majority of the policy making processes.

  7. Public policies are mostly enabled or formulated by governmental bodies. Under some conditions or for some special parts of the policies the perspective of private organizations is also considered.

  8. Undeniably, the public policies are specially designed for achieving the public interest.

Types of public policy

There are several types of public policy. A snippet of each of them is given as follows: like substantive, regulatory, distributive, redistributive etc.

Figure 1 Types of public policy

Substantive: These policies are mostly associated with the welfare and development of the general masses. For example, the policies formulated for education, employment etc.

Regulatory: As the name describes these policies exhibit their association with formulating different policies for trade, business activities etc.

Distributive: These policies are specially planned for some particular segments of society such as health services, public welfare etc.

Redistributive: These policies are actually distributive policies which are redesigned or modified in accordance with social and economic changes.

Models of Policy Making

The policy makers have developed several models that can help to understand and illustrate the process of policy making. Some of the key models developed are as follows:

  • Group theoretic model

A group includes some individuals who possess certain common characteristics and relationship. These groups are classified into different categories such as formal, informal etc. This theory suggests that the public policy framed is the cumulative effort of group struggle. Individual sharing some common characteristics join hands with each other in order to bring the policies framed by government into action.

  • Elite theoretical model

This model suggests that a policy is caused by elites, depicting their values and fulfilling their needs. The model reflects that the society is categorized into few who have power and some who do not have power. The policy is not made by the people or the masses, rather it is ruling elite which decides the public policy. This policy is then put into action by bureaucracy.

  • Institutional model

This model explains that the public policies are framed and then put into action by institutions. Here institution is referred to as a predefined pattern of human behavior that comprises structured interaction in a specific framework of some special values. These institutions are not only responsible for deciding how to frame the policies rather they also decide content to be included in policy.

  • Rational model

This model rather than deciding the different aspects of policy aims at estimating its efficiency on the basis of benefits and losses caused by it socially, economically and politically (Lindboln et al., 1968).

Foundation approaches to public policy

The different foundations associated with formulation of public policy are well-equipped with resources such as money, knowledge and network which can be utilized to produce knowledge, establish strong connectivity with different sections of society, and even enable appropriate relation between different members of public policy communities. By making these contributions the foundations enable their assets for making a difference in public policy making and thus enabling a better problem solving attitude in the different areas of policy making process (Williams, 2006).

Different approaches or methods followed by foundations for policy making process are given as follows. The foundations associated might:

  • Provide financial support for different public policies which can exhibit better impact of the policy.
  • Offer information from numerous sources which can present the views towards existing and upcoming policy issues (Browne, Coffey, Cook, Meiklejohn, & Palermo, 2019).
  • Establish strong connectivity between individuals and organizations, thus putting different resources and skills fostering discussion on various policy issues.
  • Establish reputation as promising policy makers (Finnegan, 2019).

See also here

  1. Browne, J., Coffey, B., Cook, K., Meiklejohn, S., & Palermo, C. (2019). A guide to policy analysis as a research method. Health Promotion International, 34(5), 1032–1044.

  2. Finnegan, J. J. (2019). Institutions, climate change, and the foundations of long-term policymaking. Retrieved February 5, 2020, from

  3. Peters, B. G. (2015). Advanced introduction to public policy. Edward Elgar Publishing. Retrieved from

  4. Pierce, J. J., Peterson, H. L., & Hicks, K. C. (2017). Policy Change: An Advocacy Coalition Framework Perspective. Policy Studies Journal.

  5. Williams, M. (2006). Strategies for shaping public policy: A guide for health funders. Hans Bethe and his Physics. Retrieved from

  6. Lindblom, Charles E. 1968. The Policy Making Process, Prentice-Hall.

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