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Hirschman 2.0 or What Makes a Good Policy Advice System? A Theory of Policy Advice System Quality & Capacity


Not everyone’s ideas count equally in terms of influencing and informing policy design and instrument choices. As the literature on policy advice has shown, policies are made by many different actors interacting with each other over relatively long timeframes. Actors within these ‘policy advisory systems’ interact within the confines of a set of political and economic institutions and governing norms and each brings with it different interests and resources. Understanding who these actors are, how they act and how this affects the overall nature of the advice system is a critical aspect of all public policy-making activity but not all of these elements have been equally well conceptualized or studied. In this article, the general nature of policy advice systems is set out, their major components described and a model of individual and organizational behavior within them outlined based on a modification of the Exit, Voice, Loyalty rubric of Albert Hirschman. The paper shows how individual organizational behaviour along the lines suggested by Hirschman can result in very different kinds of advice being provided by an advisory system, with predictable consequences for its nature and quality.