Go to podcast
by Professor Paul Cairney
Understanding Public Policy (in 1000 and 500 words)

Policy in 500 Words: bounded rationality and its consequences


The seventh of a series of podcasts tying together 500 Words posts.

This lecture is on the distinction between comprehensive/ bounded rationality and how policy actors deal with bounded rationality. It is based on text in Chapter 13, including:

"Theories also describe different ways in which responses to bounded rationality affect policymaking behaviour:

• Policymakers can only pay attention to a tiny proportion of their responsibilities, and policymaking organizations struggle to process all policy-relevant information. They prioritize some issues and information and ignore the rest (Chapter 9).

Policy in 500 Words: Punctuated Equilibrium Theory

• Some ways of understanding and describing the world dominate policy debate, helping some actors and marginalizing others.

Policy in 500 Words: Power and Knowledge

• Policy actors see the world through the lens of their beliefs. Beliefs allow them to select and interpret policy-relevant information and decide who to trust.

Policy in 500 Words: The Advocacy Coalition Framework

• Actors engage in ‘trial-and-error strategies’ or use their ‘social tribal instincts’ to rely on ‘different decision heuristics to deal with uncertain and dynamic environments’

Policy in 500 words: uncertainty versus ambiguity

Policy in 500 Words: Ecology of Games

Policy in 500 Words: the Social-Ecological Systems Framework

Policy Concepts in 1000 Words: Complex Systems

• Policy audiences are vulnerable to manipulation when they rely on other actors to help them understand the world. Actors tell simple stories to persuade their audience to see a policy problem and its solution in a particular way

Policy in 500 Words: the Narrative Policy Framework

• Policymakers draw on quick emotional judgements, and social stereotypes, to propose benefits to some target populations and punishments for others

Policy in 500 Words: Social Construction and Policy Design

• Institutions include formal rules but also the informal understandings that ‘exist in the minds of the participants and sometimes are shared as implicit knowledge rather than in an explicit and written form’

Policy in 500 Words: Feminist Institutionalism

• Policy learning is a political process in which actors engage selectively with information, not a rational search for truth

Three ways to encourage policy learning


Episode 7

by Professor Paul Cairney