The importance of policy design fit for effectiveness: a qualitative comparative analysis of policy integration in regional transport planning

Marijn T. T. van Geet, Stefan Verweij, Tim Busscher, Jos Arts


Policy design has returned as a central topic in public policy research. An important area

of policy design study deals with effectively attaining desired policy outcomes by aligning

goals and means to achieve policy design fit. So far, only a few empirical studies have

explored the relationship between policy design fit and effectiveness. In this paper, we

adopt the multilevel framework for policy design to determine which conditions of policy

design fit—i.e., goal coherence, means consistency, and congruence of goals and means

across policy levels—are necessary and/or sufficient for policy design effectiveness in the

context of policy integration. To this end, we performed a qualitative comparative analysis

of Dutch regional transport planning including all twelve provinces. Outcomes show no

condition is necessary and two combinations of conditions are sufficient for effectiveness.

The first sufficient combination confirms what the literature suggests, namely that policy

design fit results in policy design effectiveness. The second indicates that the combination

goal incoherence and incongruence of goals and means is sufficient for policy design effectiveness.

An in-depth interpretation of this counterintuitive result leads to the conclusion

that for achieving policy integration the supportive relationship between policy design fit

and policy design effectiveness is less straightforward as theory suggests. Instead, results

indicate there are varying degrees of coherence, consistency, and congruence that affect

effectiveness in different ways. Furthermore, outcomes reveal that under specific circumstances

a policy design may be effective in promoting desired policy integration even if it is

incoherent, inconsistent, and/or incongruent.


policy design

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