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Compare and Contrast Rational and Incremental Policy Making
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In this essay I intend to investigate both rational and incremental policy making, identifying the differences between them. Despite the notable differences I also intend to draw comparisons between the two in order to establish which is the more favourable method to use when introducing public policy. Rational models of policy making assume policy makers identify all problems, then gather and review all the data about alternative possible solutions and their consequences and select the solution that best matches their goals. The incremental model of policy making involves taking small steps which are based on previous policies or previous...
who may have different goals. Both models are developed to find the best possible decision available. Both Simon's rational model and Lindblom's incremental model are very different but both share a common goal and both methods can be effective under different circumstances. Using the rational decision making model, there is a high level of control over policy allocated to planners as opposed to the incremental which allows solutions to evolve over time. However, no single type of model can do everything, the rational model provides an ideal model whilst the incremental model provides a realistic view of the world.
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Bureaucracy and public choice theory... Bureaucracy and public choice theory are two approaches that can be used to describe the British state. In this essay I will seek to determine the key characteristics of these theories and in turn will attempt to identify the relative strengths and weaknesses of both. I will then attempt to compare both models in an attempt to conclude which is the best and most productive when applied to an organization such as the British state. The term bureaucracy is a controversial one when applied to everyday life and it is evident in many organizations of various sizes. The term was largely based upon authority within an organization. Max Weber, one of the main advocates of bureaucracy identified three types of structures of authority. The first of these is charismatic authority which was evident in the fascist reigns of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. The second type is that of traditional authority, an example of this is when tasks are carried out by a person because of their traditions and is evident within tribal culture. The final type is a legal authority and this will provide the basis for this essay. It can be defined as the most rational way of basing authority in society with the use of various rules and regulations. Legal authority is a term that can be applied to Western democracies in the world today. The British civil service in Britain today is viewed as bureaucratic one based upon a legal authority. Weber described the ideal type bureaucracy in positive terms, considering it to be the most rational and efficient form of organization. Weber argued in his 'Rational Legal Framework' bureaucratic systems were percieved as, ""¦capable of attaining the highest degree of efficiency and in this sense formally the most rational known means of carrying out imperative control over human beings. It is superior to any other other form of precision, in stability and in the stringency of its discipline and reliability." For a bureaucracy to function efficiently, Weber identified a number of key characteristics. He believed that within a bureaucracy, regular activities needed to be fixed and allocated. A hierachy with different levels of power is essential within a bureaucracy to ensure that somebody is always held to account. Within a bureaucracy there must be a consistent set of rules which are all applied within the same way and officials in a democracy must be dispassionate. The officials employed are employed due to their technical qualifications and training is provided in a certain area of the organization. These officials are also protected against arbitrary dismissal and promotion within the organization based on merit, both of these rules were viewed as necessary in order to avoid nepotism. With the application of these practices, Weber believed that this was the most rational means of organizing human beings. There are a number of strengths derived from bureaucratic systems. Bureaucratic organizations benefit from a division of labour into spheres of influence. This means that each department in an organization specialises in a certain area which in theory should increase the productivity of departments and therefore the efficiency of the organization as a whole. However, it could be argued that the division of labour can compartmentalize attention and response. A definite hierarchy of official offices can be beneficial as this ensures that a department is always answerable to somebody. However, it is possible that this can give rise to inefficiencies as work may be passed up and down chains of command before it can be completed which is likely to increase the time it takes for a task to be carried out which could also lead to a backlog of tasks therefore increasing the time it takes to complete tasks further. Where hierarchies are concerned there is also a danger that an organization can develop into an 'iron cage' of control. The presence of a hierarchy can result in a lack of leadership within departments as a worker is always answerable to somebody else. This gives rise to one of the principal weakness of a Bureaucracy which is the unwillingness of those who serve it to take prompt action in the absence of guidance from above or past precedents. It is often seen as one of the strengths of bureaucratic organizations that clear norms and rules are in place. These ensure that there is no confusion within the workplace as people know what they are doing and they have clearly defined goals to work towards which means that these goals are likely to be achieved to a high standard. However, having so many rules in place can lead to red tape which can delay the completion of tasks resulting in inefficiencies within the organization which raises questions as to whether this is the most rational way of carrying out tasks. Also, once so many rules are in place it is often difficult to change the form of the organization and the rules in place as this would potentially cause great confusion within the organization meaning its efficiency could be compromised. A further strength of the bureaucratic system is that selection to office is by technical qualification. An organisation can increase its efficieny if it has well qualified staff and this appears to be a lot more rational than in traditional and feudal forms where people were often appointed by favouritism or bribes. However, any hierarchical relationship always culminates with with one top boss. In the case of the British civil service, the Prime Minister is the top boss and other ministers are heads of government departments whom have thousands of civil servants working within them departments. It can be the case that corruption can exist at the top of such structures and those at the top can be driven by power and other personal benefits derived from their position. Therefore, it is not necessarily true that bureaucratic systems aren't exposed to corruption in the form of bribes and favouritism. An example of this within the British government is the recent cash for honours scandal. It would be difficult to comment if such corruption was widespread as bureaucratic firms are notoriously isolated from outside evaluation and feedback, they are closed organisations. Weber did have some interesting ideas on bureaucracy and these ideas are influences on the framework of many modern day organizations. However, by the time of the late twentieth century the world had change considerably. In the 1970's the post-war boom ended, this was followed by an oil crisis and once again, recession became a very real problem. Society had changed demographically also and migrant labour had altered the characteristics of the population and hence bureaucracies began to become unrepresentative, and many of Weber's theories about it, outdated Noticable shifts away from bureaucratic government began to occur. This gave rise to the emergence of new ideas, public choice theory being amongst them. Public choice theory is the use of modern economic tools to study the problems of constitutional democracy. In particular, it studies the behavior of voters, politicians, and government officials as self-interested agents and their interactions in the social system. Public choice analysis has a strong root in positive analysis but is used for normative purposes, seeking to see what ought to be, to identify a problem or suggest how the performance of the system could be improved by changes in constitutional rules. The theory is also often referred to as the rational choice theory, the rational actor at the heart of the model assumes that people have sets of well formed preferences which they percieve rank and compare easily. These preference orderings are transitive and logically consistent. It is the assumption of the rational actor that people are 'maximizers' who always seek the biggest possible benefits and least cost in their decisions. They act rationally when they pursue their preferences in an efficient manner and maximize benefits net of costs. Therefore, "somebody behaves 'rationally' if they optimize their preferences in a consistent fashion, however substantively ill-advised we may judge their preferences to be." It is assumed by the rational actor that people are egoistic, self regarding and instrumental in their behaviour, choosing how to act on the basis of their personal welfare. There are a number of theorists, usually economists, whose work focuses upon public choice theory. One theory of public choice was presented by Anthony Downs, author of 'Inside Bureaucracy' 1967. Down's had a pluralist view of bureaucracies. It was his belief that bureaucrats play the same supply-side role as an entreprenuer or a manager of a firm.and makes assumptions about their preferences based upon their roles within an organization. At the heart of his account is motivational diversity and he compiled a general model of how rational officials behave based on assumptions about what they want. He believed bureaucrats to be utility maximizers and benefit optimizers. "Every official acts at least partly in his own self interest and some officials are motivated solely by their own self interest." It was his belief that the self interest motives of bureaucrats include power, money income, prestige, and convenience although he does outline some broader motives which would be beneficial to the bureau. These include personal loyalty to either the immediate work group or the bureaucracy itself, pride in proficient performance at work, and a desire to serve the public interest. These broader motives are a strength derived from Down's public choice model but are in contrast with the traditional view of bureaucracy which is that bureaucrats are dispassionate and it would also solve one of the principal problems of a bureaucracy, that workers are unwilling to go beyond the call of duty without guidance due to being dispassionate about their job. Down's believed that , although officials vary widely, public interested officials are extemely rare and organizational behaviour is determined by officials protecting their own self-interest. He also believed that people within an organization managed to evade those above them in the hierarchy of power. This could be said to be a weakness of this model but it is seen as one of the key strengths of a bureaucracy from a traditional view. It undermines the claim that everbody in the organization is answerable to someone more powerful. Down's is of the opinion that bureaucracies need to be constantly supervized by representative bodies if they are to fulfill the social goals of the bureau. Again this is in contast to bureaucracies which are often closed, secret organizaions. Another public choice theorist is William Niskanen. He offered a new right account of the aggregate behaviour of bureaus in his book Bureaucracy and Representive Government 1971. Niskanen shares two distinguishing features of new right public choice theory, a concerntration on a narrow and economistic conception of what people want, and a strong view of individuals as inherent maximizers. But if there is no profit index, what do bureaus maximise? It is widely believed amongst public choice theorists that bureaus aim to maximise the size of the bureau, Niskanen argues that it is the budget that is the main concern of the top officials within a bureau, bigger budgets increasing well being in multiple ways, "Among the several variables that may enter the bureaucrat's motives are: salary, prequisites of the office, public reputation, power, patronage, output of the bureau"¦all are a positive function of the total budget of the bureau during the bureaucrats tenure "¦A bureaucrat's utility need not be strongly dependant on every one of the variables which increase with the budget, but it must be positively and continuously associated with its size." It was Niskanen's belief that higher budgets led to increases in staffing and bureaucratization ensuring officials can divert more resources into creating perks. In other words, Niskanen makes the assumption that bureaucrats act within their own self interests and maximizing the bureaucracy is for their own benefit. Niskanen adopts a general economics view that bureaus are command organizations run in a top down manner. This is in contrast to traditional views of bureacracy which make out that the hierarchy within them is fair and which bureaucrats progressively move up as they gather experience. Niskanen wrote of his belief that when budget maximising bureaucrats have monopoly power there is an oversupply of public goods that means a bureaucracy would be acting inefficiently. Rational officials take advantage of those producing the budget and maximize pushing output of public goods beyond the trade equilibrium and they only stop producing output when constrained by those providing a budget. One further public choice model was produced as a criticism to Niskanen's work. This was produced by Patrick Dunleavy who wrote extensively about his bureau-shaping model in his work "Democracy, Bureaucracy and Public Choice" 1985. In his work he criticises the work of both Downs and Niskanen. "Public choice models of bureaucracy which predict open ended budget maximization are badly flawed internally." He states that bureaucrats typically do not embark on modes of improving their welfare unless they have exausted individual welfare boosting strategies and also offers reasoning disproving Niskanens theory of budget maximizing. He is of the belief that characteristics of public service employment systems make it likely that the welfare of high ranking bureaucrats is highly bound with their work. Dunleavy's bureau-shaping model of bureaucracy is when, "Rational bureaucrats therefore concerntate on developing bureau-shaping strategies designed to bring their agency into line with an ideal configuration conferring high status and agreeable work tasks within a budgetary constraint." This approach has its benefits as bureaucrats are acting in the interests of the bureau rather than in their own self interest as suggested in the models of both Downs and Niskanen, however it is disagreeable with Weber's version of bureaucracy in which bereaucrats are dispassionate. Despite its benefits, the model is simplistic and doesn't take account change over time "“ like Weber's model. Having summarised three of the most widely discussed public choice models, some major problems concerning public choice theory have emerged. The general arguement of Downs' and Niskanens models are that people are basically self-interested in their behaviour, irrespective of the social role they may be occupying. In all of the models discussed, their notion of the rational economic man is far to vague and based on too many assumtions. "The rational actor is usually an abstract and shadowy figure who lurks in the assumptions" The same is true in Weber's view of bureaucratic organizations so far as everybody is generalised and put into one category- that everybody is dispassionate about their work.. Public choice models also make the assumption that people possess a lot of knowledge in making political decisions, " assuming they are perfectly informed." This is clearly not possible. In bureaucratic systems, clearly defined rules within the organization ensure there are not such problems "“ one of the benefits of Weber's model of bureaucracy. A disadvantage common throughout all the public choice models discussed is that they require peoples preferences to be fixed and unaffected in the political choice process. Again this problem is not evident within Weber's models of bureaucracy as choices are made at the top and implemented throughout the rest of the system from there. In public choice theory, political decision makers are modelled so they only have a single maximizing course of action open to them. Despite the possibility of inefficiencies within Weber's model, specialization within different areas, with bureaucrats operating under clear rules, means a number of options are available.   

Bureaucracy and public choice theory are two approaches that can be used to describe the British state. In this essay I will seek to determine the key characteristics of these theories and in turn will attempt to identify the relative strengths and weaknesses of both. I will then attempt...

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