DOI: 10.12924/pag2013.01020170 |Publication Date: 14 October 2013

Patching vs Packaging in Policy Formulation: Assessing Policy Portfolio Design

Michael Howlett 1, 2, * and Jeremy Rayner 3
1 Department of Political Science, Simon Fraser University, Canada
2 Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, Singapore
3 Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Saskatchewan, Canada
* Corresponding author
Abstract: Thinking about policy mixes is at the forefront of current research work in the policy sciences and raises many significant questions with respect to policy tools and instruments, processes of policy formulation, and the evolution of tool choices over time. Not least among these is how to assess the potential for multiple policy tools to achieve policy goals in an efficient and effective way. Previous conceptual work on policy mixes has highlighted evaluative criteria such as "consistency" (the ability of multiple policy tools to reinforce rather than undermine each other in the pursuit of individual policy goals), "coherence" (or the ability of multiple policy goals to co-exist with each other in a logical fashion), and "congruence" (or the ability of multiple goals and instruments to work together in a uni-directional or mutually supportive fashion) as important design principles and measures of optimality in policy mixes. And previous empirical work on the evolution of existing policy mixes has highlighted how these three criteria are often lacking in mixes which have evolved over time as well as those which have otherwise been consciously designed. This article revisits this early design work in order to more clearly assess the reasons why many existing policy mixes are sub-optimal and the consequences this has for thinking about policy formulation processes and the practices of policy design.

Keywords: planning; policy design; policy instruments; policy layering; policy mixes; policy portfolios


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