Policy Communities and Networks

… a core topic in Policy Analysis and Process and Atlas101

Topic description

This topic examines the role of policy communities and networks.

Topic learning outcome

Upon completing this topic the student will be familiar with the major frameworks for analyzing the role of policy communities and networks, and with the concepts listed below.

Core concepts associated with this topic
Policy Community

Policy Networks

Advocacy Coalitions Network Targets
Candidate entries in Old Atlas


Recommended readings for 8 hours of preparation


Recommended readings in MPP and MPA courses


Concept comprehension questions

CCQ206.09.34. Among the statements a-d pertaining to network targets choose the one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. Organizations and individuals should be granted high levels of autonomy and legitimacy as policy actors in their own right, not merely as recipients of government programs.

b. This approach requires a greater tolerance for potential failure and the possibility that partners will both make mistakes and have to learn from them.

c. The role of government is to facilitate and empower rather than to deliver and direct.

d. Policy instruments in this category have the character of mandates rather than inducements.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid.

CCQ206.09.35. Among the statements a-d pertaining to policy community choose the one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. A policy community can be defined as the actors in a policy network, presumably those who share at least some common language and conceptual reference points but who may be opponents on the issue.

b. Policy communities are groupings of government agencies, pressure groups, media people, and individuals, including academics, who, for various reasons, have an interest in a particular policy field and attempt to influence it.

c. Paul Pross argued that most of the inside players in a policy community try to keep debate within the realm of the technical and routine, and that the attentive public are the outsiders whose main influence on the process is to generate ideas and discussion through conferences, publications, and occasional lobbying.

d. In Pross’s view, the policy community is actually an insulating device to keep a grip on the process.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid.

CCQ206.09.36. Among the statements a-d pertaining to advocacy coalitions choose the one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. A distinctive feature of the advocacy coalition framework proposed by Paul Sabatier is its emphasis on the role of ideas and values in the policy process.

b. The first element in the belief system – very difficult to change through policy arguments – is the deep or normative core, which consists of fundamental axioms about human nature, justice, and priorities among values such as security, health, and life.

c. The second set of ideas is the near (policy) core, and it comprises notions about the proper scope of government activity, distributions of power and authority, orientations on substantive policy conflicts, and basic choices about policy instruments. These are difficult to change but can be altered if experience seriously differs from theory.

d. The final set contains secondary aspects and consists of instrumental decisions needed to implement the policy core, such as decisions about administrative rules, budgetary allocations, and statutory interpretation. These are comparatively easy to shift or change and constitute the bulk of technical policy argumentation.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid.

CCQ206.09.37. Among the statements a-d pertaining to policy networks choose the one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. A policy network can be defined as the pattern of relations among members of the policy community.

b. The importance of policy networks and communities continues to grow but the realities of the policy process continue to change the nature and dynamic of those communities.

c. Networks are important today not only because they represent interests that have to be integrated into the policy process, or information that is crucial to analysis, or even important loci of opposition, but because they are important sinews for implementation and delivery.

d. Networks are based on formal agreements about objectives, resource sharing, and coordinating procedures.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified on 3 September 2018.

Image: Nucleus Dynamics, at https://secure.emedicare.sg/ContentPageV02.aspx, accessed 7 April 2017.