Causal logics and mechanisms in policy design: How and why adopting a mechanistic perspective can improve policy design

Giliberto Capano, Michael Howlett


Policy design undertakes to develop effective policies and hence must understand

whether and how effective policies can be formulated and implemented. However,

very often policy design has failed to focus on the causal chain that represents the

actual driver of policy effects and thus misconstrues the potential effectiveness of a

policy design. A mechanistic perspective is extremely helpful for conceptualising and

pinpointing such causal chains, as it focuses on the real processes that must be activated

by policy-makers in implementing policy designs. This article identifies the main steps to

be taken when adopting such a mechanistic approach to policy design.


policy design, mechanisms

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