Public Policy Formation and Analysis Processes

The Policy-Making Process

Five stages of the policy process

The five main stages that make up the policy process and as brought out by James Anderson include identification of the problem, formulation of the policy, adoption of the policy, administration or implementation, and evaluation. The first stage, problem identification, is the point at which they need for a policy is identified. The policy formulation phase is whereby; an effective solution for the identified problem is developed. Policy adoption entails establishing supporting evidence for the solutions given to allow for the policy to be endorsed. Policy implementation, on the other hand, entails incorporating the policy into the identified problem, while evaluation involves assessing the effectiveness of the implemented policy (Anderson, 2000).

Government actors in the United Arab Emirates that play the most important role in each stage of the policymaking process

The UAE president has a key role in policy setting. Other main players involved are those that make up the executive council. These include the chairmen of different ministries and departments such as Abu Dhabi Electricity and Water Authority, Crown Prince Court, the Finance Department, Tourism Authority, the Civil Service Department, Health Authority, Executive Affairs Authority, Planning and Economy, Transport, Municipalities, and Agriculture Department among others. Other members of the council are the Abu Dhabi Police GHQ’s deputy commander in chief and the Finance Department’s department (Executive Council, 2008).

Policy Process and Policy Analysis

How the policy process differs from policy analysis

The policy process involves identifying the need to come up with a given policy, developing the policy, enacting it, and assessing its effectiveness. Policy Analysis on the other hand involves identifying the key decision-makers, defining the agenda, and policy implementation. Assessment of the situation before a policy is implemented is also done during policy analysis.

Questions asked in studies of the policy process and policy analysis

Some of the questions asked during the policy process include why policies keep changing, why some problems are more focused on than others, or how policy choices are made. Questions asked during policy analysis include, what should be done, what possible solutions to a given problem exist, and which policy option should be chosen.

Purposes of studies

The policy process is important in such a way that it provides a range of major choices from which decision-makers are able to choose the best solution or strategy that will help in solving a given problem. On the other hand, policy analysis provides a means through which, information collected is analyzed and synthesized to come up with a policy decisions outline as well as to identify the various policy-related needs that may arise in the future. Policy analysis is seen as a way of giving advice (Weimer & Vining, 2005).

Focus of researchers

While policy process researchers focus on the problems that need to be addressed, and on the development of a policy to change a situation or solve a problem (Smith & Larimer, 2009), those dealing with policy analysis focus on the policy at hand. Research on the policy process focuses on political power. The process requires that problems be identified and solutions sought. Policy analysts’ main focus is on information that could be important in the formulation of a given policy. Policy analysis is the client- focused and therefore works towards ensuring that client’s needs are met (Weimer & Vining, 2005).

Approaches to Policy Analysis

Challenges to “rationalist” policy analysis posed by post-positivists

According to rationalists, policy analysis is possible through the use of systematic techniques. This depicts policy analysis as an instrument or tool through which logical decisions can be made with an aim of solving a specific problem. The two major challenges to the rationalists are those to do with the authenticity and generalization of the done research study for the identified policy. According to post positivists, the approach is not just unworkable but one that is also based on assumptions that are not realistic at all. The assumptions are said to be invalid in terms of the actual world. According to them, the approach cannot, for example, be effectively applied within the public- sector due to the complexity of the occurring problems. In this case, the main problems for rationalist’s process of making policies lie in problem definition and in its practice of application. While rationalist policy analysis focuses on the current situation and the explanation for the situation, post-positivism focuses on solutions that can address the situation (Smith & Larimer, 2009).

Ethics in Policy Analysis

During policy analysis, there are a number of instances where analysts may be faced with issues likely to obscure their ethical process of making decisions. In certain instances, the requirements of the client may not fall in line with those of the analyst in terms of ethics and required standards. In this case, the analyst has three main options namely; exit, voice, or disloyalty.

Possible options for me

If asked to perform unethical policy analysis, I would consider taking one of the three options. Voice entails working with an aim of changing the situation from the inside. It also refers to air out one’s grievances to another person. In this case, I would consider protesting or leaking the information to a higher authority by writing a complaint letter. Exit refers to leaving the job. In this case, I would choose to resign or to give an ultimatum to the client. I would for example ask the client to either let me do what is ethical or I quit working for him or her. I would also threaten to report the issue in case the client does not allow me to work under the necessary ethical principles. Disloyalty, on the other hand, involves challenging the client’s position. Here, I would choose to leak the information given by the client or to disclose it to a higher authority (Weimer & Vining, 2005).

Choices between the options if my client was my supervisor in the government compared with if my client was a representative from a private interest seeking a policy decision from the government

If my client were to be a supervisor in the government, then I would choose to exit as it would be difficult to reach out to a higher authority through voice or disloyalty. However, if the client were to be a representative in a private firm, then I would consider using voice or disloyalty, as through this, I can report to the client’s seniors who would then investigate and take the required action.


Anderson, E. (2000). Public Policymaking, an Introduction. Boston, Houghton Mifflin Company.

Executive Council. (2008). Policy Agenda 2007-2008. The Emirate of Abu Dhabi: UAE Governement.

Smith, B. & Larimer, C. (2009). The Public Policy Theory Primer. NY, West View Press.

Weimer, D. and Vining, A. (2005). Policy Analysis: Concepts and practice. 4th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ, Pearson Prentice Hall.