Policy Feedback

… a core concept used in Policy Analysis and Process and Atlas101

Concept description

Moynihan and Soss (reference below) define policy feedback as “the potential for policies to transform politics and, as a result, influence future courses of policy development.”

They go on to say:

“In contemporary political science, the concept of policy feedback suggests that policies can transform the political landscape in ways that are far more fundamental and varied. Policies, in this view, are not just political objects; they are political forces that reconfigure the underlying terms of power, reposition actors in political relations, and reshape political actors’ identities, understandings, interests, and preferences. Indeed, to explain policy outcomes, this approach suggests, one must often look to the political dynamics set in motion by policy actions at earlier points in time.”

Andrea Louise Campbell (reference below) elaborates:

“… the policy feedback approach incorporates existing policies as inputs into the policymaking process. Existing policies fundamentally reshape the political environment and, therefore, subsequent policy outcomes in a dynamic and cyclical manner. Policies through their designs and implementation affect a variety of actors in the political system, including both members of the public and political elites such as elected politicians, bureaucrats and agencies, and interest groups. At the elite level, policies can confer resources on some interest groups over others, shape views about what constitute good policies, impose budget constraints, and affect institutional capacity. Among the public, they can influence individuals’ attitudes about the role of government and toward societal groups, and they can enhance or undermine rates of political participation. Scholars interested in policy feedback study aspects of policy designs to illuminate what kinds of effects policies have on subsequent politics.”


Donald P Moynihan and Joe Soss (2014), Public Administration Review, Volume 74, Issue 3, 320-332, manuscript available at https://www.lafollette.wisc.edu/images/publications/facstaff/moynihan/Moynihan-Soss-PAR-RR-1-7-14.pdf, accessed 31 August 2018.

Andrea Louise Campbell (2018), Policy Feedback, Oxford Bibliographies, at http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199756223/obo-9780199756223-0235.xml, accessed 31 August 2018.

Atlas topic, subject, and course

Institutions and the Policy Process (core topic) in Policy Analysis and Process and Atlas101.

Page created by: Alec Wreford and Ian Clark, last modified on 31 August 2018.

Image: Walter Lee Elementary School, at http://lee.sd38.bc.ca/parents/pac/2018/04/20/richmond-sd38-sogi-policy-feedback, accessed 31 August 2018.