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Thinking Outside the Box? Applying Design Theory to Public Policy


Design involves an account of expertise which foregrounds implicit, heuristic skills. Most models of policy making have a stronger interest in structural and exogenous pressures on decision making. Research suggests that high-level experts develop unique capacities to process data, read a situation, and see imaginative solutions. By linking some of the key attributes of a design model of decision making to an account of expertise, it is possible to formulate a stronger model of public policy design expertise. While other approaches often concern themselves with constraints and structural imperatives, a design approach has a focus upon the capacities of individual actors such as policy experts. Such an approach rests upon central propositions in regard to goal emergence, pattern recognition, anticipation, emotions engagement, fabulation, playfulness, and risk protection. These provide a starting point for further research and for the professional development of policy specialists.


public policy, policy design