Saturday, July 24, 2010

PPA: Decisions: Power and Rationality

Friday our ever decreasing group of public policy students debated the process of making decisions and what types of rationality exist. As the penultimate seminar we have almost completed the policy analysis cycle. Our reading list for the seminar included Lindblom and Dahl. Dahl argues that a key characteristic of a democracy is the continuing responsiveness of the government to the preferences of its citizens, considered as political equals. A political system which has the characteristic of being almost or completely responsive to all its citizens.

You can for the sake of argument and analysis divide most governments in four categories based on Contestation (C) and Inclusion (I). High C / High I, High C/ Low I, Low C/ High I, Low C/Low I. From this can further analyse with respect to:
  • How the power is distributed
  • Role of the state
  • Nature of conflict
  • Whose interests prevails
  • Basis of power

The other topic up for debate was Rationality. Now this interests me, I've been reading up on rationality in decision-making for modeling purposes. The two we explored were Incrementalism (Partisan Mutual Adjustment?) and Bounded Rationality.

I'm really interested in Bounded Rationality and how people cannot considered more than a certain amount of information, important when asking decision-makers to pick based on multiple criteria or systems with multiple implications.

If by this point you're wondering when I became a social science convert I can quite adamantly profess to this being my only foray into the world of qualitative, mumble-jumble in which there are few wrong answers...I'll even take statistics equations over this world.

Reading List:
  • Charles Lindblom (1950), “The Science of Muddling Through”, Public Administration Review, (19), Spring 1950, pp.79-88.
  • Robert Dahl (1971), Polyarchy: Participation and Opposition, Yale University Press, Yale., Chapter 1: “Democratisation and Public Opposition”

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Hmmm, the various forms of democracy practiced often seem to produce governments that are far removed from what is needed by the people. Not sure if that is the fault of the process, people or politicians. It often seems to be oligarchy dressed in democratic clothing.