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Problem delimitation in public policy analysis

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Author(s): Arnošt Veselý

Journal: Central European Journal of Public Policy
ISSN 1802-4866

Volume: 1;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 80;
Date: 2007;
Original page

Keywords: Problem delimitation | problem structuring | problem defining | problem modeling | politics of problem definition

ABSTRACT
The article deals with delimitation of problems in public policy analysis by which the author means a complex approach to policy problems that includes analysis of causes of public policy problems, analysis and evaluation of different subjective problem representations and suggestions for precise problem formulation. The basic aims of the paper are to: (a) review different strands of literature on problem delimitation; and (b) classify different approaches and analyze interrelations among them. Two basic approaches found in literature, entitled respectively “political stream” and “policy stream” are distinguished and analyzed. Political stream literature focuses upon analysis of how problems are defined and framed in political agenda and how they are influenced by nature of the problems and actors concerned. Policy stream literature is more practically oriented and its basic aim is to formulate public issues as concrete problems so that it can be effectively solved. Policy stream consists of three different types of activities: ‘problem structuring’, ‘problem defining’ and ‘problem modeling’. It is argued that the distinction between the “political” and “policy” stream based upon different and rather isolated strands of literature is somewhat artificial and deceptive. In fact, these two basic approaches are not mutually contradictory and should be integrated into one synthetic framework of “problem delimitation”. Only then could some of the methodological shortcomings in the field be solved.

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