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Agendas, alternatives and public policies John Kingdon , 1984

Agendas, alternatives and public policies John Kingdon , 1984

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Agendas, alternatives and public policies John Kingdon , 1984

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  1. Agendas, alternatives and public policiesJohn Kingdon, 1984 Harben Porter PA 715 November 5th, 2012

  2. Overview • Policy ideas travel through three streams: the problem stream, policy stream and politics stream. • As ideas are floated around specialist communities, they mutate, fragment and recombine with other problems and solutions, at times for years on end. • The three steams flow independently from each other, operating in disconnectedness and organized anarchy until they are joined together to capitalize on a “policy open window.”

  3. Agenda Setting • Agenda: • “The list of subjects or problems to which governmental officials (visible participants), and people outside of government closely associated with those officials (hidden participants), pay some serious attention at any given time” (Kingdon 2010, 3). • Governmental: • Subjects receiving general awareness • Decision Making: • Front-burner issues up for active decision

  4. Issues and Alternatives • Issues: • Broad areas of concern • Alternatives: • Specific, practical ideas that could be implemented Example: Concern over rising cost of medical care versus regulating hospital costs.

  5. Participants Visible Participants • President • Congress • Political Appointees • Interest Groups • Hidden Participants • Interest Groups • Academics • Researchers • Consultants • Bureaucrats • Staff Broad Agenda Items Alternative Specification Media, Elections, Public Opinion Indirect influence over broad agenda items and alternative specification

  6. The Garbage Can Model Cohen, March, Olsen 1972, Admin. Science Quarterly • Problems, alternatives and other issues are developed simultaneously. When a choice opportunity arises, visible and hidden players add various ideas and levels of participation into the choice opportunity garbage can. A decision is made on these inputs. • The Federal Government is more akin to the garbage can model than the rational decision making or incremental models.

  7. The Three Streams

  8. The Problem Stream • Problem Identification: • Requires the evolution from condition to problem • Often tied to budget indicators • Focusing events • Crises • Symbols • Feedback procedures (reports and reviews) • Dominated by policy entrepreneurs

  9. The Policies Stream • Specialists, academics, special interests and bureaucrats wield their expertise to test and articulate details of a given problem. • Specialists float ideas, hold hearings and draft proposals which then mutate, fragment and recombine in a policy primeval soup. • Policy entrepreneurs push proposals and encouraging the softening-up process to familiarize policy communities with their ideas. • “Technical feasibility, congruence with the values of community members, and the anticipation of future constraints, including a budget constraint, public acceptability, and politician's receptivity” are needed for survival. • Ideas are softened, transformed, thrown out and then born to new life in tandem with a separate but congruent idea to be reintroduced to the agenda setting process.

  10. The Political Stream • Dominated by visible members of government • More concerned with major issues than alternatives • Affected by national mood, elections, partisan or ideological distributions in congress, interest group pressures and changes in administration

  11. Joining the Streams and the Open Window • Policy open windows are infrequent and fleeting • They require policy entrepreneur readiness • Windows open due to a change in the political stream, most often with the introduction of a new administration or turnover in congress • To capitalize on an open window, all three streams must come together in a critical moment of problem recognition, solution development and community readiness • The administration must be receptive to the policy initiative, the alternatives must be adequately known throughout the policy stream, and the solutions must be congruous to the ripe political climate Policies Coupling Policy Window Problems Policy Action of Streams Politics

  12. Assessment • Provided clarity to a convoluted series of processes • Too little influence attributed to media, coalitions and individuals • Verbose, chart heavy • Created a context for understanding the evolution of national policy issues such as health care reform

  13. Generalizing Multiple Streams Theory National: The Affordable Care Act State: Reading Wars of the 1990s

  14. Activity and Discussion Plastic Bag Law – Multiple Parents Bill – Online Impersonation Law Does Kingdon’s 28 year-old theory of agenda setting hold up today? Analyze one of the three California cases below in the context of Kingdon’s multiple-streams theory. To Consider: • Consider general awareness and issue “floating.” • Consider public opinion, participant influence and administration receptivity. To Answer: • Where along the decision agenda process is your case? How did it get there? • What visible or hidden players can you identify? • Was the issue an alternative to a larger policy? Did it couple with other policy issues that you can think of? • Was there a focusing event? Did magnitude affect the policy? Feedback? Budget? • What do you think Kingdon would attribute to the outcome of your case? • Are there any factors present in your case that Kingdon does not touch on?

  15. Questions…