3rd Edition

Designing Public Policies Principles and Instruments

By Michael Howlett Copyright 2024
    540 Pages 18 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    540 Pages 18 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The third edition of this highly regarded book provides a concise and accessible introduction to the principles and elements of policy design in contemporary governance. It examines in detail the range of substantive and procedural policy instruments that together comprise the toolbox from which governments choose tools to resolve policy problems and the principles and practices that lead to their use.

    Guiding readers through the study of the many different kinds of instruments used by governments in carrying out their tasks, adapting to, and altering, their environments, this book:

    • Considers the principles and practices behind the selection and use of specific types of Instruments in contemporary government and arrangements of policy tools esp. procedural tools and policy portfolios
    • Evaluates in detail the merits, demerits, and rationales for the use of specific organization, regulatory, financial and information-based tools and the trends visible in their use
    • Examines key issues such as policy success and failure and the role of design in it; policy volatility and risk management through policy design; how behavioural research can contribute to better policy designs; and the 'micro' calibrations of policies and their importance in designs and outcomes
    • Addresses the issues not only surrounding individual tools but also concerning the evolution and development of instrument mixes, their relationship to policy styles and the challenges involved in their (re)design as well as the distinction between design and "non-design'

    Providing a comprehensive overview of this essential component of modern governance and featuring helpful definitions of key concepts and further reading, this book is essential reading for all students of public policy, administration, and management.

    Part I: Introduction: Policy Design and Governance in the Modern State 

    1. Understanding the Role of Policy Design in Contemporary Policy Making 

    2. Policy Design in the Contemporary Era: Beyong Globalization and Governance  

    Part II: Systematically Studying Policy Design  

    3. What is Policy Design?: Key Definitions and Concepts in the Study of Policy Design 

    4. What do Policy Designs and Policy Design Processes Look Like? 

    5. Why Policy Design?: Tools, Behavioural Mechanisms, and the Need for Policy Design  

    Part III: Policy Designing: Processes and Practices 

    6. When Does Policy Design Occur and Why?: Policy Designing as Policy Formulation in the Face of Uncertainty 

    7. Who are the Policy Designers and Where do they Work?: Policy Advice, Policy Advisors and Policy Advisory Systems  

    Part IV: The Elements of Policy Design: Policy Instruments and Instruments Mixes 

    8. Policy Designs and Policy Portfolios: The Origins of Policy Instrument Study as Field of Academic Inquiry 

    9. Organisational Tools 

    10. Authority-Based Policy Tools 

    11. Financial or Treasure-based Tools 

    12. Information-based Policy Tools 

    13. Traditional Policy Styles and Contemporary Design Trends  

    Part V: Lessons for Policy Designs and Designers  

    14. How to Best Assemble and Evaluate a Policy Design: Character and Context in Contemporary Policy Designs 

    15. Dealing with the Darkside of Policy Design  

    Part VI: Conclusion 

    16. The Capacity Challenges of Policy Design Over Space and Time


    Michael Howlett is Burnaby Mountain Professor and Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in the Department of Political Science at Simon Fraser University specializing in public policy analysis, political economy and resource and environmental policy.

    “This is an essential guide for those who seek to improve the design of public policies.  This edition adds consideration of why policy designs look the way they do and the potential darkside of misplaced designs.  The discussion of various aspects of policy design incorporates a wealth of up-to-date scholarship.”

    Peter J. May, Donald R. Matthews Distinguished Professor Emeritus of American Politics, University of Washington, Seattle, USA

    “Designing Public Policies is a comprehensive, engaging, and highly readable text. The third edition retains the qualities of earlier editions, adding a layer of insights that makes it a must read for all students of public policy, administration, and management interested in policy design in contemporary governance.”

    Moshe Maor, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

    “In recent years, the literature on policy design has expanded massively.  In the third edition of his widely used book, Mike Howlett distils the most important elements of thinking into sixteen accessibly written chapters which will serve the needs of academics and policy practitioners.  Highly recommended.”

    Andrew Jordan, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, Norwich, UK

    "Michael Howlett’s Designing Public Policies: Principles and Instruments has long been a foremost text on public policy design. This revised edition effectively couples foundational knowledge on policy instruments and contemporary thinking on the study and practice of policy design that increasingly accounts for behavioral considerations and policy mixes. It is thus an even more important and relevant text for academics, practitioners, and students interested in public policy design."

    Saba Siddiki, Associate Professor of Public Administration, Syracuse University, USA

    “Howlett has produced a tour de force on one of the most fundamental concepts in public policy. This revised edition provides readers with a magisterial overview of policy design and instruments, and recent developments in the field. A must read for scholars, students and practitioners of public policy.”

    Azad Singh Bali, University of Melbourne & Hamad Bin Khalifa University.

    "The latest edition of Designing Public Policies is an authoritative book on policy design with a focus on modern-day governance challenges. This book will be a valuable resource for policy scholars and students by drawing attention to the features of diverse policy instruments and how these can be leveraged for better policy design."

    Sreeja Nair, Assistant Professor, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore