Using Procedural and Institutional Policy Instruments

… a core term used in Implementation and Delivery and Atlas107

Concept description

Leslie Pal (reference below) describes how procedural and institutional instruments can be used as a policy response.

Pal writes (p. 168):

“A final, unconventional category that seems to be attracting increasing attention is procedural (Howlett, 2000) or institutional instruments (Kirschen, 1964). Governments “increasingly come to rely on the use of a different set of ‘procedural’ tools designed to indirectly affect outcomes through the manipulation of policy processes” (Howlett, 2000, p. 413). Many of these instruments are aimed less at delivery of policy and programs than at the restructuring of relationships either within the state or between the state and social partners. Webb offers a vision of what he calls “sustainable governance” that highlights not only the institutional dimension of policy instruments, but the combination of institutions and actors and instruments that are active within a given policy field: “… sustainable governance involves a combination of governmental and nongovernmental institutions, processes, instruments, and actors, it entails more than simply a question of instrument choice…. Sustainable governance is a concept that attempts to recognize and draw on the largely untapped potential of the private sector, the third (voluntary) sector, and individual citizens to assist in governing in the public interest” (Webb, 2005, p. 243).

“Another way to see this category of instruments is as focusing on organization or network-type targets. Organizational instruments take the state itself – its structure and management – as a target of public policy. As Osborne and Gaebler (1993) famously argued, there is a continuing role for government but not in its bureaucratic guise. It is necessary to restructure government so that incentives to perform efficiently and well are clear and pervasive. Performance indicators and pay linked to performance help do that. Other mechanisms are designed to introduce market forces into the provision of public services, from contracting out to full privatization.”

See also: Pal’s Classification of Policy Instruments.

Atlas topic, subject, and course

Implementing through Partners and Networks (core topic) in Implementation and Delivery and Atlas107.


Leslie Pal (2014), Beyond Policy Analysis – Public Issue Management in Turbulent Times, Fifth Edition, Nelson Education, Toronto. See Beyond Policy Analysis – Book Highlights.

Howlett, M. (2000, Winter). Managing the “hollow state”: Procedural policy instruments and modern governance. Canadian Public Administration, 43, 412–431.

Kirschen, E. S., et al. (1964). Economic policy in our time (3 vols.). Amsterdam, Netherlands: North-Holland.

Osborne, D., & Gaebler, T. (1993). Reinventing government: How the entrepreneurial spirit is transforming the public sector. New York, NY: Penguin.

Webb, K. (2005). Sustainable governance in the twenty-first century: Moving beyond instrument choice? In P. Eliadis, M. M. Hill, & M. Howlett (Eds.), Designing government: From instruments to governance (pp. 243–280). Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified 12 April 2017.

Image: Global Teacher Education, Conference on the Internationalization of U.S. Education in the 21st Century, at, accessed 3 April 2017.