Consulting and Communicating on Policy

… a core topic in Implementation and Delivery and Atlas107

Topic description

This topic examines techniques for consulting and communicating with stakeholders when designing and implementing a government initiative.

Topic learning outcome

Upon completing this topic the student will be familiar with the principal techniques of consulting and communicating with stakeholders when designing and implementing a government initiative, and be familiar with the definitional concepts listed below.

Core concepts associated with this topic
The Crucial Role of Communication

Consulting Stakeholders and Engaging Citizens

Public Opinion Research

Communications Plan

Access to Information (Freedom of Information) Policies

Open Government

Dunn’s Four-stage Process of Communicating Policy-relevant Knowledge

Policy Issue Paper

The Role of Ideas in Policymaking

Postmodernist Policy Analysis

Cognitive Dissonance

Symbolic Representation and Narrative

Media Bias and Agenda Setting

Communication Nudges and Behavioural Economics

Pal’s Comparison of Academic and Policy Research

Open access readings for 8 hours of preparation

The Atlas pages for the concept entries noted above.

MORE TO COME

Recommended readings in MPP and MPA courses

Toronto PPG1007 Putting Policy into Action – Strategic Implementation of Public Objectives

TO COME

Concept comprehension questions

CCQ206.09.15. Among the statements a-d pertaining to the crucial role of communication choose the one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. To maintain the integrity of an evidence-based approach to policy analysis, it is crucial to distinguish the objective function of policy design from the subjective function of policy communication.

b. Policy is inseparable from communication, which is the lubricant for every phase of the cycle.

c. Public policy is not only made; it is sold, and sold to a large number of disparate and different audiences.

d. Complementing the logic of arguments is the art of issue framing, a deliberate technique for depicting a policy issue in understandable terms.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid.

CCQ206.09.16. Among the statements a-d pertaining to consulting stakeholders and engaging citizens choose the one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. With consultations, the challenge is balancing public demands with the realities of hard decisions.

b. Policymakers genuinely believe that consultation in policy design and partnership in policy delivery are important aspects of their jobs.

c. The shift to “engagement” from “consultation” has become possible because of the increasing trust that citizens have toward government.

d. Consultation is usually focused on the operational and programmatic level, as opposed to broad values or directions for policy development.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid.

CCQ206.09.17. Among the statements a-d pertaining to Dunn’s four-stage process of communicating policy-relevant knowledge choose the one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. William Dunn argues that the communication of policy-relevant knowledge is a four-stage process consisting of policy analysis, materials development, interaction, and knowledge utilization.

b. Dunn argues that the policy analyst at the centre of the cycle and supporting each stage, though only indirectly when it comes to knowledge utilization.

c. Dunn puts a strong emphasis on the range of techniques available for everything from problem definition to recommendations (including cost-benefit analysis), time series analysis, and the structure of policy arguments.

d. For Dunn, the knowledge utilization stage includes agenda-setting, policy formulation, policy adoption, policy implementation, and policy assessment.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid.

CCQ206.09.18. Among the statements a-d pertaining to the term policy issue paper choose the one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. A policy issue paper is best thought of as the functional equivalent of an executive summary of a policy memorandum.

b. A policy issue paper is a relatively lengthy, detailed, and technical analyses of a policy problem, with consideration of options and recommendations.

c. A typical question addressed in a policy issue paper is “in what ways can the policy problem be formulated?”

d. A typical question addressed in a policy issue paper is “what goals and objectives should be pursued in solving the problem?”

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid.

CCQ206.09.19. Among the statements a-d pertaining to the role of ideas in policy making choose the one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. The stream of work in the policy sciences that emphasizes the role of ideas claims that there are no such things as “facts” or “reality.”

b. Ideas are not merely individual biases, but collective ideational frameworks that help policy analysts, decisionmakers, and other actors make sense of the world.

c. A policy paradigm is a framework of ideas and standards that specifies not only the goals of policy and the kind of instruments that can be used to attain them, but also the very nature of the problems they are meant to be addressing.

d. Depending on how deep these ideas are buried, and how fundamental they are for our interpretation of the world, they may not even be noticed.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid.

CCQ206.09.20. Among the statements a-d pertaining to postmodernist policy analysis choose the one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. The postmodernist policy analysis is also known as post-positivist, or constructivist analysis of policy design and implementation.

b. The postmodernist approach argues that our ideas, our beliefs, our norms, even our language, structure perception so deeply that we can perceive only hard facts.

c. For postmodernists, embracing the rational model means elevating experts, which, in turn, means choking democracy or the meaningful participation of non-expert, ordinary citizens.

d. For postmodernists, the categories of thought behind reasoned analysis are themselves constructed in political struggle, and nonviolent political conflict is conducted primarily through reasoned analysis, which means that reasoned analysis is necessarily political.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid.

CCQ206.09.21. Among the statements a-d pertaining to symbolic representation and narrative choose the one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. Policy communication is not only about analysis, but about persuasion through language and rhetorical strategies, whether deliberate or through unconscious art and instinct.

b. Deborah Stone highlights four modes of symbolic representation: narrative stories, synechdoches, metaphors, and ambiguity.

c. Narratives are stories that draw on the tropes of deep human experience: decline, loss, survival, triumph.

d. Synechdoche is the representation of the whole by a part or by a single instance such as representing disability, which has many dimensions, by an image of a person in a wheelchair.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid.

CCQ206.09.22. Among the statements a-d pertaining to media bias and agenda setting choose the one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. Public policy is shaped and fashioned by a host of actors – ordinary citizens, politicians, public officials, think tanks, academic institutions, government relations experts, nongovernmental organizations – but debates over policy rarely take place directly, and most citizens get exposed to these debates through the media, typically television news, magazines, newspapers, and so on.

b. A relevant question is whether these media simply and faithfully channel those debates to the public, or whether they have their own biases and agendas, and consequently an independent effect by shaping how people think about policy issues.

c. Recent research suggests that the agenda-setting power of the media has been somewhat exaggerated.

d. There is no analytic basis for the concern that modern media, especially television, operate on a logic that is rapidly dumbing down the citizenry and eroding public trust and civic engagement.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid.

CCQ206.09.23. Among the statements a-d pertaining to communication nudges and behavioural economics choose the one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. The brain’s automatic system is quick and feels instinctive, whereas the reflective system is more self-conscious and calculating.

b. Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein argue for communications mechanisms that will reduce biases and allow people to make more effective decisions.

c. If people are given the choice of donating when the amounts on offer are $100, $200, and $300, they will tend to donate more than if the choice is $50, $75, or $100.

d. Since human beings make errors, there should be feedback mechanisms to let them know something is going wrong.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid.

CCQ206.09.24. Among the statements a-d pertaining to Pal’s comparison of academic and policy choose the one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. Academic research usually explores theoretical issues and is curiosity driven while public policy research usually addresses a real-world problem and is aimed at finding solutions that work.

b. Whereas academic research is usually subject to deadlines such as those imposed by granting agencies or publishers, public policy research is not subject to such artificial limits and takes as long as needed to get the answer right.

c. Academic research is usually conducted in universities or think tanks while policy research can be conducted within government, and outside in think tanks, NGOs, businesses and media organizations.

d. The audience for academic research is typically other academics, experts, and specialists in the field while the audience for policy research is typically government officials, both senior appointed and elected, and the broad, interested public.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified on 26 September 2017.

Image: Youngsub Chung, at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-communicate-others-effective-communication-skills-youngsub-chun, accessed 23 March 2017.