Public Policy Analysis:An Introduction

William N. Dunn
November 2007
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For one semester/quarter courses in Public Policy and Public Policy Analysis.


Public Policy Analysis introduces students to the process and methodology of public policy analysis. Using a problems-oriented and a multidisciplinary synthesis approach, this text bridges the gap between theory and practice. The text draws from political science, public administration, economics, decision analysis, and social and political theory to achieve the only integrated, multidisciplinary text on policy analysis currently available.


Hallmark Features

  • Complex statistical and analytical methods presented with an “intuitive” approach that requires only a basic understanding of algebra and the capacity to do long division.
  • A “problem-oriented” or “applied” approach to public policy-show students how to help solve practical problems.
  • Extensive coverage of problem structuring covers how problems are defined, analyzed, diagnosed, and classificied.
  • Coverage of how policy analysis in the policy-making process, can improve agenda setting, policy formulation, policy adoption, policy communication, policy implementation, and policy adaptation/termination.
  • Strategies of how to communicate effectively and use information to maximize the likelihood that policy analysis is actually used by intended beneficiaries.
  • "How-to" appendices guide students through the process of writing policy issue papers and policy memos, the planning and presentation of oral briefings, using relevant software tools (SPSS 10.1 and DPL 4.0) to analyze and communicate quantitative and qualitative data in paper, memos and presentations.

New to this Edition

This edition is more usable than past editions, because it includes definitions of key terms in the margins, a simplified style of writing, and a webpage with problems, exercises, data, and guidelines for instructors.  For example, “demonstration exercises,” now included at the end of each chapter, will be accompanied by a web page with data, data analysis, conclusions, and commentary.  This makes the text slimmer, simpler, and less foreboding, thus satisfying the main reviewer concerns. 


New webpage for the fourth edition is now live!

This comprehensive website created by the book's author, William Dunn, contains information about the author, a description of the learning strategies employed throughout the book, and Powerpoint slides, datasets, and teaching notes that complement the textbook content.  

Table of Contents

Preface to the Third Edition 


CHAPTER 1: The Process of Policy Analysis 

  • The Process of Policy Inquiry 
  • Multidisciplinary Policy Analysis
    • Policy-Relevant Information
    • Policy-Informational Transformations
    • Policy-Analytic Methods
  • Three Cases of Policy Analysis
  • Forms of Policy Analysis
    • Retrospective and Prospective Analysis
    • Descriptive and Normative Analysis
    • Problem Finding and Problem Solving 
    • Segmented and Integrative
  • The Practice of Policy Analysis
    • Reconstructed Logic versus
    • Methodological Opportunity Costs
  • Critical Thinking and Public Policy 
    • The Structure of Policy Arguments
    • Dynamics of Argumentation, Public Discourse, and Debate  
  • Chapter Summary  
  • Learning Objectives  
  • Key Terms and Concepts
  • Review Questions 
  • Demonstration Exercise  
  • References 
  • Case 1. Multidisciplinary Policy Analysis-Benefits, Costs, and Consequences of Highway Safety


CHAPTER 2: Policy Analysis in the Policy-Making Process 

  • Some Historical Background
    • Early Origins 
    • The Nineteenth-Century Transformation
    • The Twentieth Century-And Beyond
  • The Policy-Making Process  
  • Models of Policy Change
    • Comprehensive Economic Rationality   
    • Second-Best Rationality
    • Disjointed Incrementalism 
    • Bounded Rationality
    • Mixed Scanning 
    • Erotetic Rationality
    • Critical Convergence
    • Punctuated Equilibrium
  • Policy Analysis in the Policy Process
    • Potential Uses of Analysis
    • Uses of Analysis in Practice
  • Chapter Summary 
  • Learning Objectives
  • Key Terms and Concepts
  • Review Questions
  • Demonstration Exercise 
  • References
  • Case 2. Are Policy Analysts Technocrats? 


CHAPTER 3: Structuring Policy Problems

  • Nature of Policy Problems
  • Beyond Problem Solving
    • Characteristics of Problems
    • Problems verses Issues
    • Three Classes of Policy Problems
  • Problem Structuring in Policy Analysis
    • Creativity in Problem Structuring
    • Phases of Problem Structuring
    • Errors of the Third Type (EIII)
  • Policy Models and Problem Structuring
    • Descriptive Models 
    • Normative Models
    • Verbal Models
    • Symbolic Models
    • Procedural Models
    • Models as Surrogates and Perspectives
  • Methods of Problem Structuring
    • Boundary Analysis 
    • Classificational Analysis
    • Hierarchy Analysis
    • Synectics
    • Brainstorming
    • Multiple Perspective Analysis
    • Assumptional Analysis
    • Argumentation Mapping
  • Chapter Summary
  • Learning Objectives 
  • Key Terms and Concepts
  • Review Questions
  • Demonstration Exercise
  • References 
  • Case 3. Problem Structuring in Mine Safety and Health, Traffic Safety, and Job Training


CHAPTER 4: Forecasting Expected Policy Outcomes

  • Forecasting in Policy Analysis
    • Aims of Forecasting
    • Limitations of Forecasting
  • Types of Futures
    • Goals and Objectives of Normative Futures
    • Sources of Goals, Objectives, and Alternatives
  • Approaches to Forecasting
    • Objects
    • Bases
    • Choosing Methods and Techniques
  • Extrapolative Forecasting 
    • Classical Time-Series Analysis
    • Linear Trend Estimation
    • Nonlinear Time Series 
    • Exponential Weighting 
    • Data Transformation
    • Catastrophe Methodology
  • Theoretical Forecasting
    • Theory Mapping
    • Theoretical Modeling
    • Causal Modeling
    • Regression Analysis
    • Point and Interval Estimation
    • Correlational Analysis
  • Judgmental Forecasting
    • The Delphi Technique
    • Cross-Impact Analysis
    • Feasibility Assessment
  • Chapter Summary
  • Learning Objectives
  • Key Terms and Concepts
  • Review Questions
  • Demonstration Exercise
  • References
  • Case 4. Political Consequences of Forecasting: Environmental Justice and Urban Mass Rapid Transit


CHAPTER 5: Recommending Preferred Policies

  • Recommendation in Policy Analysis
  • Recommendation and Multiple Advocacy
    • Simple Model of Choice
    • Complex Model of Choice
    • Forms of Rationality
    • Criteria for Policy Recommendation
  • Approaches to Recommendation
    • Public versus Private Choice
    • Supply and Demand 
    • Public Choice
    • Cost-Benefit Analysis
    • Types of Costs and Benefits
    • Tasks in Cost-Benefit Analysis 
    • Cost-Effectiveness Analysis
  • Methods and Techniques for Recommendation
    • Objectives Mapping
    • Value Clarification
    • Value Critique
    • Cost Element Structuring 
    • Cost Estimation
    • Shadow Pricing 
    • Constraint Mapping 
    • Cost Internalization
    • Discounting
    • Sensitivity Analysis
    • A Fortiori Analysis
    • Plausibility Analysis
  • Chapter Summary
  • Learning Objectives
  • Key Terms and Concepts
  • Review Questions
  • Demonstration Exercise
  • References
  • Case 5. Saving Time, Lives, and Gasoline: Benefits and Costs of the National Maximum Speed Limit 


CHAPTER 6:    Monitoring Observed Policy Outcomes

  • Monitoring in Policy Analysis
    • Sources of Information
    • Types of Policy Outcomes
    • Types of Policy Actions
    • Definitions and Indicators
  • Approaches to Monitoring
    • Social Systems Accounting
    • Social Experimentation
    • Social Auditing 
    • Research and Practice Synthesis 
  • Techniques for Monitoring
    • Graphic Displays 
    • The Gini Index
    • Tabular Displays
    • Index Numbers
    • Interrupted Time-Series Analysis
    • Control-Series Analysis
    • Regression-Discontinuity Analysis
  • Chapter Summary
  • Learning Objectives
  • Key Terms and Concepts
  • Review Questions
  • Demonstration Exercise
  • References 
  • Case 6. Rival Explanations of Policy Outcomes: The Political Economy of Traffic Fatalities in Europe and the United States    


CHAPTER 7: Evaluating Policy Performance

  • Ethics and Values in Policy Analysis
    • Thinking about Values
    • Ethics and Metaethics
    • Standards of Conduct
  • Descriptive Ethics, Normative Ethics and Metaethics
    • Descriptive Value Typologies
    • Developmental Value Typologies
    • Normative Theories
    • Metaethical Theories 
  • Evaluation in Policy Analysis
    • The Nature of Evaluation
    • Functions of Evaluation 
    • Criteria for Policy Evaluation 
  • Approaches to Evaluation 
    • Pseudo-evaluation 
    • Formal Evaluation
    • Varieties of Formal Evaluation
    • Decision-Theoretic Evaluation
  • Methods For Evaluation
  • Chapter Summary 
  • Learning Objectives
  • Key Terms and Concepts 
  • Review Questions 
  • Demonstration Exercise 
  • References
  • Case 7. Living Wage Policies in the United States 


CHAPTER 8: Developing Policy Arguments

  • The Structure of Policy Arguments
    • Types of Knowledge Claims
    • The Underdetermination of Conclusions by Information
    • Warrants, Backings, and Rebuttals
  • Modes of Policy Argumentation
    • Argumentation from Authority
    • Argumentation from Method
    • Argumentation from Generalization
    • Argumentation from Classification 
    • Argumentation from Cause
    • Argumentation from Sign 
    • Argumentation from Motivation
    • Argumentation from Intuition
    • Argumentation from Analogy
    • Argumentation from Parallel Case
    • Argumentation from Ethics
  • Evaluating Policy Arguments
    • Some Hermeneutic Guidelines
    • Guidelines from Informal and Formal Logic
    • Systems of Argumentation
  • Chapter Summary
  • Learning Objectives
  • Key Terms and Concepts
  • Review Questions
  • Demonstration Exercises
  • References
  • Case 8. Pros and Cons of Intervention in the Balkans 

CHAPTER 9: Communicating Policy Analysis

  • The Process of Policy Communication
    • Tasks in Policy Documentation 
    • Tasks in Oral Presentations and Briefings
  • The Policy Issue Paper
    • Issues Addressed in the Policy Issue Paper
    • Elements of the Policy Issue Paper
    • The Policy Memorandum
    • The Executive Summary
  • The Letter of Transmittal 
  • The Oral Briefing and Visual Displays
  • Policy Analysis in the Policy-Making Process
    • Characteristics of Information 
    • Modes of Inquiry
    • Structure of Problems
    • Political and Bureaucratic Structures
    • Interactions among Stakeholders
  • Chapter Summary
  • Learning Objectives
  • Key Terms and Concepts
  • Review Questions
  • Demonstration Exercise
  • References
  • Case 9. Adopting the EPA Lead Standard: Communicating Technical Analyses to Multiple Audiences


Appendix 1  The Policy Issue Paper

Appendix 2  The Executive Summary

Appendix 3  The Policy Memorandum

Appendix 4  Planning Oral Briefings

Author Index

Subject Index