Policy capacities and effective policy design: a review

Ishani Mukherjee, M. Kerem Coban, Azad Singh Bali


Effectiveness has been understood at three levels of analysis in the scholarly study of policy

design. The first is at the systemic level indicating what entails effective formulation environments

or spaces making them conducive to successful design. The second reflects more

program level concerns, surrounding how policy tool portfolios or mixes can be effectively

constructed to address complex policy objectives. The third is a more specific instrument

level, focusing on what accounts for and constitutes the effectiveness of particular types

of policy tools. Undergirding these three levels of analysis are comparative research concerns

that concentrate on the capacities of government and political actors to devise and

implement effective designs. This paper presents a systematic review of a largely scattered

yet quickly burgeoning body of knowledge in the policy sciences, which broadly asks

what capacities engender effectiveness at the multiple levels of policy design? The findings

bring to light lessons about design effectiveness at the level of formulation spaces,

policy mixes and policy programs. Further, this review points to a future research agenda

for design studies that is sensitive to the relative orders of policy capacity,


policy design

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