Cases in Public Policy Analysis

Cases in Public Policy Analysis

Cases in Public Policy Analysis

Cases in Public Policy Analysis

Synopsis

George M. Guess has been a senior public administration specialist at Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI) in Bethesda, Maryland, since 1994.

Excerpt

There are three distinguishing features in the second edition of Cases in Pub- lic Policy Analysis that may influence its adoption for upper division or graduate public policy courses. First, the text necessarily takes a political economy approach because it was written by a political scientist and an economist, both of whom have consulted extensively with various government agencies. This provides an important institutional and political dimension in applying economic methods to policy problems. Second, the text focuses only on the problems and tools of policy analysis rather than the entire policymaking cycle, of which the latter includes policy development, approval, implementation, and evaluation. Third, the book uses cases rather than a text/problem approach.

As William Dunn has noted, researchers and practitioners in the public policy field are still grappling with the issue of how to maximize technocratic guidance without ignoring the values and decision styles that are inherent in policy implementation (Dunn 1994, 55). Many recognize that the field needs analytic methods to ensure balance. However, excessive faith in technocratic policymaking is naïve, whereas excessive emphasis on values and decision styles may result in arbitrary decisionmaking. Policy analysts should provide useful information to decisionmakers, including the results of formal quantitative analyses, to find solutions to policy problems. However, analysts must be aware that decisionmakers will consider these results in the context of the values of the relevant stakeholders in the policy process.

We use the case method to provide decision-relevant information for the following reasons. First, cases typically provide more thorough knowledge than the text method. Robert Anthony and David Young have observed that there is better understanding when students use applied knowledge in the analysis and derivation of solutions for cases than when they read and memorize text materials (Anthony and Young 1994, 14–15). Second, cases give students insights into real-world complexity. Textbooks often use hypothetical examples or provide incomplete analyses of “messy,” complex problems. Third, cases show students the importance of communicating the . . .

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