December 14, 2009

Policy entrepreneurs

Arpad is quite the entrepreneur during deer season. This picture represents his idea of heaven.

The theme at Goat Rope lately has been public policy and how it happens or doesn't, although you'll also find links and comments about current events. As mentioned previously, one of the most useful explorations of this area is John Kingdon's Agendas, Alternatives and Public Policies, which was written in the 1980s but still holds up pretty well.

And, while Kingdon was writing primarily about federal policies, it seems to fit pretty well at the state level as well. To recap, usually it's the political big dogs who get to set the agenda, which is basically what's on the table for legislation at any given time. They tend to be big picture people responding to what they consider to be a major problem.

The specific policy alternatives, for example how to reform health care, are often developed by people in a less visible position, such as congressional and administration staffers, researchers, etc.

Before anything makes it to that stage, ideas continually emerge and recombine in what he called "the primeval soup" of the policy community, which consists of wonks, interest groups, academics, etc.

Kingdon identifies one group in which I must claim membership which he calls "policy entrepreneurs" who advocate for specific options. He says that these

are not necessarily found in any one location in the policy community. They could be in or out of government, in elected or appointed positions, in interest groups or research organizations. But their defining characteristic, much as in the case of a business entrepreneur, is their willingness to invest their resources--time, energy, reputation, and sometimes money--in the hope of a future return. That return might come to them in the form of policies of which they approve, satisfaction from participation, or even personal aggrandizement in the form of job security or career promotion.

In his view, policy entrepreneurs have different motivations. For some, it might be the advancement of personal interest, while for others it might be attempting to promote their values or the sheer fun of the game.

(Personally, I like it when you are trying to do something that is rational, doable and in the interests of low income and working people. But, yes, the game can be kind of fun.)

More later.

A DOG THAT DON'T HUNT. The Associated Press conducted an exhaustive survey of all the intercepted "climategate" emails and concludes that the science of global warming is still solid.

GO BYRD. This op-ed by yours truly attempted to send some love to WV's senior senator for his recent statement on the future of coal in this state.

LESSONS LEARNED? Here's Krugman on reforms in banking and finance.

MONKEY SAY, MONKEY DO. Here's more on the "language" of certain monkeys.


1 comment:

Hollowdweller said...

You guys better take that carcass inside! It looks like there still might be some good meat left on it!