Behavioural Assumptions of Policy Tools

Anne Schneider, Helen Ingram


This paper provides a framework to analyze the implicit or explicit behavioral theories found in laws, regulations, and programs. The analysis focuses on policy tools or instruments and the underlying behavioral assumptions that guide their choice. We begin with the premise that public policy almost always attempts to get people to do things they otherwise would not have done, or it enables them to do things they might not have done otherwise. Policy tools are used to overcome impediments to policy-relevant actions. The five broad categories of tools we iden- tify-authority, incentives, capacity-building, symbolic and hortatory, and learning-make dif- ferent assumptions about how policy relevant behavior can be fostered. We contend that policy tools are essentially political phenomena, and that policy participation in the form of com- pliance, utilization, and other forms of "coproduction" is an important form of political behavior deserving of greater attention by political science.


policy tools, policy instruments, policy behaviour

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@Annual Review of Policy Design ISSN: ISSN 2291-6989