In the type of work we do in our consulting practice – research, evaluation and advisory, there is seldom time to develop theoretical insights, during the preparatory phase or during an ongoing work. It helps us to have (relatively) quick process flows; application oriented concepts and most importantly actionable insights. This is where one cannot pick up theoretical books. Application oriented books on practice of policy, evaluation etc are fewer in comparison to theory and fundamental concepts books. So, we are always on the look out for action-oriented thinking. The last I wrote about an applied concept was a post on development primer. A couple of my friends suggested that it was useful for them in their research projects and over the years we have used it too.
This post is to share a flowchart to think about policy problems and propose solutions, methodically. It is set within economic theory. The steps may appear rudimentary. However, for beginners in public policy the crisis often is about how-to ‘begin’. Here are the steps in analyzing an issue and methodically develop a solution for it:
- Identify an issue
- Build a model
- Analyse behaviour of economic agents
- Look for a solution by identifying the equilibrium
- Understand the conditions for a stable equilibrium
- Introduce welfare concern in the equilibrium
- See if the equilibrium undergoes any change
- Study enforcement or implementation of the altered conditions under which the equilibrium with welfare effects incorporated is achieved
This term, I am assisting in Public Finance course. The above flowchart is from a lecture by Dr. Anup Pujari. It helps that he has had decades of experience in government and in teaching economics.
A more recent inspiration for this post is Ajay Shah’s post Become a public policy thinker in three easy steps. I have returned to his post often, for its simple and effective presentation. Step 3 on the hurdle of public administration is just the kind of input that only those with a longer exposure and experience to real world policy problems can provide, as is the case with Dr. Pujari’s flowchart above.
I will use Policy Thinking as a label to series of applied ideas that will be written about on this blog henceforth.