Professional Developments in Policy Studies

Professional Developments in Policy Studies

Professional Developments in Policy Studies

Professional Developments in Policy Studies


This is an insightful overview of what is happening at the cutting edge of professional public policy analysis. Written by a well-known expert, the survey assesses the many and varied aspects of the policy studies discipline. Nagel suggests ways for professionals to become more effective and interdisciplinary in their approaches to dealing with public policy. He analyzes cross-cutting governmental activities and different theoretical perspectives. He points to means for achieving policy goals, for selecting among alternative policies, and to the organizations and institutions that are concerned with public policy.


The purpose of this chapter is to discuss briefly a set of questions that relate to possible obligations of public policy analysts. Those questions divide into questions of ends and questions of methods, as indicated in Figures 4.1 and 4.2. This chapter does not answer the questions, rather, seeks to raise them in a provocative way with concrete examples in order to stimulate thinking on how they might be answered. This is part of the ongoing development of the public policy profession and orientation.

Ethical ends in policy evaluation

The questions that relate to ends can be subdivided into purposes, goals, and effects. Those three concepts may sound almost synonymous, but they actually involve substantially different situations.

Purposes: Impact versus Optimizing

One ethical question relates to the extent to which policy evaluators have an obligation to seek the best possible policies for achieving given goals. Are they sufficiently performing their proper roles by merely describing the effects of given policies on given goals? One example involves the work of the Water Quality Committee of the National Academy of Sciences. That committee was given the job of evaluating the 1972 Federal Water Pollution Act. Its mandate, however, specified that no congressional funds were to be used to do research or discuss a "pollution tax" as an alternative to the existing system of permits, inspections, and litigation for noncompliance. the committee was supposed to offer recommendations on how the existing system could be made more effective and efficient but not to suggest replac-

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