Policy Instruments and Design

… a core topic in Policy Analysis and Process

Topic description

This topic introduces students to policy design and instrument choice, and teaches students the importance of thinking about the different tools governments have available to deliver on policy commitments and the appropriate processes for choosing between those tools.

Topic learning outcome

Upon completing this topic the student will be familiar with concepts associated with policy instruments and design, including those listed below.

Core concepts associated with this topic
Typologies of Policy Instruments Pal’s Classification of Policy Instruments Policy Design and Social Values
Other potential concepts on the Old Atlas

Instrument ChoiceInstrument Design; Policy Instrument; Satisficing; Static Response; Deterrence; Nonlinear Policy Problems; Program; User Charge

Recommended readings for 7 hours of preparation


Recommended readings in MPP and MPA courses

University of Toronto PPG1001


Concept comprehension questions

CCQ206.08.15. Among the statements a-d pertaining to typologies of policy instruments choose the one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. Most classifications of policy instruments stress the degree of coercion involved.

b. A policy tool is defined as an identifiable method through which collective action is structured to address a public problem.

c. Policy instruments are defined as the set of techniques by which governmental authorities wield their power in attempting to ensure support and effect or prevent social change.

d. A policy instrument is defined as the process of choosing the most appropriate tool to deal with the policy problem as it has been defined.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid.

CCQ206.08.16. Among the statements a-d pertaining to Pal’s classification of policy instruments choose the one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. For expenditure-based instruments, governments are not trying to achieve their objectives or outcomes by changing the information that undergirds behaviour, but rather the calculus of costs, benefits, and financial resources.

b. With regulatory policy instruments, governments achieve the conditions or service goals they have in mind by marshalling their own resources toward those ends.

c. Doing nothing may appear as a nondecision, however, a deliberate choice not to intervene, made after an analysis of the problem, should be considered a policy decision.

d. Information-based policy instruments include government-directed attempts at influencing people through transfer of knowledge, communication of reasoned argument, and moral suasion in order to achieve a policy result.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid.

CCQ206.08.17. Among the statements a-d pertaining to policy design and social values choose the one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. Pal suggests that there does appear to be a tilt – though only a slight one and with some contradictions – to the social values reflected in the way in which instruments and policy design have been chosen.

b. The tilt of the toolbox has been to maximize individual choice in programming and societal co-production with more careful, if possibly more extreme, government intervention than anything seen in the recent past.

c. Community and social cohesion have become watchwords for government as they move towards a society with less intervention and more individual choice.

d. Policy implementation that depends on market mechanisms and pure individual choice will encourage citizens to see their relations to government and to each other as primarily ones of exchange.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified on 22 May 2017.

Image: ETH Zurich, SUMSOR, at http://www.plus.ethz.ch/research/forschungsprojekte/sumsor.html, accessed 31 March 2016.