1st Edition

Policy Strategy and Innovation Primer Process, Praxis and Tools

By Charles Chao Rong Phua Copyright 2023
    198 Pages 26 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    198 Pages 26 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    Phua focuses on applying the best of corporate strategy and innovation tools and praxis into the policy process with the aim of devising a coherent policy strategy–innovation framework and process.

    Government and business strategies differ in their operating assumptions and variables, but the strategy process is more similar than is often perceived. Phua debunks the government versus business dichotomy and demonstrates the potential for cross-learning between both domains. Readers will benefit the most by reading this book in tandem with Phua’s other works on strategy also featured in this series.

    This book is an essential primer for academics, practitioners and learners of public policy, strategy, innovation and applied problem-solving.

    List of Figures

    List of Tables


    1 Public Policy and Public Administration/Management: Paradigms, Practice and Paradoxes

    2 Bringing the Public and Process Back Into Public Policy: A Citizen’s Guide to Public Policy Process

    3 Macro-Situation Analysis: Environment Analysis

    4 Macro-Situation Analysis: Organisational Strategies

    5 Meso-Analysis for Policy Strategy: Interaction Strategies

    6 Agenda Setting, Data Collection and Analysis Tools

    7 Idea Generation

    8 Conclusion: Towards Strategic Pragmatism in Policy Strategy–Innovation, a Research Agenda for Complexity



    Charles Chao Rong Phua now runs Solaris Strategies Singapore (and chairs Solaris Consortium of Management Consultancies) dedicated to pragmatically solving complex problems supporting governments, corporates and underserved nonprofits at sector and enterprise levels, after two decades in government, where he functioned as a head research trainer in defence and chief external affairs supporting cities and infrastructural diplomacy. Charles also presides over Association for Public Affairs (Singapore) spearheading active citizenry in policymaking and served as chief judge for Singapore Model Cabinet and Parliament organised by government. He is an internationally certified management consultant – academic fellow (International Council of Management Consulting Institutes), facilitator, project manager, SAFe agile practitioner with doctorate in public policy, postgraduate/degrees in international relations, security management, education, accounting, systems thinking, organisational psychology and law, Charles completed executive education in strategy, innovation, entrepreneurship, marketing and sustainability from leading business schools: Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg, Berkeley, Babson, INSEAD, Cambridge, Oxford, London Business School. He currently serves as series editor for Routledge series for strategy, wisdom and skills with a commitment to codify academic + practitioner wisdom in applied and interdisciplinary fields. He teaches applied problemsolving at National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Management University and Singapore University of Social Sciences, Civil Service College (Singapore), University of St Gallen (Switzerland). He was a Fulbright fellow and completed resident fellowships at Brookings, Columbia and Johns Hopkins.

    Part of this book was adapted from his course materials. He seeks to bring the best of corporate strategy into public policy academia and practice, in the right sequence and for the right purpose.

    "Policy problems are inherently complex and hence difficult to solve. Charles Phua's book is well embedded in complexity thinking assumptions and ventures to cross fertilise the best of corporate strategy into policy strategy. This interdisciplinary entrepreneurial book is essentially about practical problem-solving methodology and has immense potential for problem solving in other disciplines."

    Professor Carmine Bianchi, Professor of Business and Public Management, University of Palermo, Italy, and Scientific Coordinator for CED4 Systems Dynamics Group

    "To make public policy and business strategy work together for the greater good requires more than just rhetoric. It requires tools. This is precisely the focus of The Policy-Strategy Innovation Primer and practitioners will benefit."

    Professor Craig Calhoun, University Professor of Social Sciences, Arizona State University, former president of London of School of Economics and Social Sciences Research Council (SSRC)

    "When in need of a tool, a toolbox is extremely useful, if its contents are well organized and cover many contingencies. Charles Chao Rong Phua has assembled a conceptual toolbox composed of elements of strategic pragmatism for policy strategy-innovation that draws selectively on complexity, policy and strategy literatures to create an effective repository of conceptual devices to aid practitioners’ practical wisdom."

    Professor Stewart Clegg, D.Phil, D.Litt, Ph.D, John Grill Institute for Project Leadership, School of Project Management and Faculty of Engineering, The University of Sydney

    "In an era when governments the world over face seemingly insurmountable challenges, public administrators need more of the kind of "strategic pragmatism" that Charles Chao Long Phua advocates in this book. Readers will find Policy Strategy and Innovation Primer brimming with optimism that governmental organizations can adapt and innovate to meet the many demands of our time."

    Prof Cary Coglianese, Edward B Shils Professor of Law and Professor of Political Science; Director, Penn Program on Regulation, University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School.

    "A sweeping and intellectually challenging analysis of policy- strategy innovation, especially its complex inter-disciplinary nature and written with an eye for politicians and civil servants. A text for the times."

    Professor Christopher Coker, Director, LSE IDEAS

    "I think the future of interesting research and writing sits as the intersection of arenas and disciplines rather than within any particular one.  This is what Certified Management Consultant Charles Phua has accomplished in his latest book.  Here, in (Charles, put the title in the form you'd like it), the worlds of public policy and business strategy are inter-twined to produce a practically oriented text designed to appeal to the research community and practitioners alike.

    As chair of the Academic Fellows with the International Council of Management Consulting Institutes and a fellow Certified Management Consultant, I fully endorse the bridge building between the leading edge of practice and communicable insight that Charles has achieved."

    Prof Simon Haslam, CMC, Visiting Professor, University of Durham Business School and Chair, International Council of Management Consulting Institutes (ICMCI) Academic Fellows

    "In this lively new book, the author lays out an approach to public policy that escapes the usual US and Westminster boundaries to the broader fabric of public policy puzzles throughout the world. He lays out strategies for innovation that are rooted in the emerging new reality of policy complexity. That creates a rich new lens through which to view the big issues facing governments around the world."

    Professor Donald F. Kettl, Professor Emeritus and Former Dean, University of Maryland School of Public Policy 

    "Business and policy scholarly disciplines have professionalised through the decades. But the increasingly complex topics as technology and sustainability are necessitating cross-fertilisation and cross-learning across disciplines. Having done doctoral training in public policy and business strategy, Charles Phua's cross-fertilisation of business strategy tools into the policy process will advance the complexity discourse in public policy. A novel and commendable feat!"

    Professor Sarah Kreps, John L. Wetherill Professor in the Department of Government, Director, Cornell Tech Policy Lab, Cornell University, and non-resident senior fellow, Brookings Institution


    "Policy Strategy and Innovation Primer: Process, Praxis, Tools is very relevant to policy scholars and practitioners because innovative policies are needed to solve complex problems of today. Under this context, professor Phua clearly articulated and elucidated the strategies in innovation for the policy domain. I am confident that this book on policy strategy and innovation will greatly impact the building of theory and practical know-how in the field of public policy."

    Professor Hae Young Lee, Professor of Public Administration at Yeungnam University, S. Korea, former President of Korean Association of Public Administration (2014) and former Chairman of Korean Government Evaluation Commission (2014-2018)

    "In the fast-changing world that we live in today, where innovation outstrips policy formulation and regulation, and where the longevity of a political party, let alone a politician, is increasingly elusive, the public-private debate takes on heightened emphasis. Charles does an excellent job of addressing this head-on, questioning if a dichotomy truly exists or should be allowed to prevail."

    Lim Hwee Hua, Former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore, Rector, Tembusu College, National University of Singapore, and author of Government in Business - Friend or Foe? (2014) and Government in Business - Leading or Lagging? (2021)

    "Good policy strategy requires a sound outstanding of context and strategic levers. Good policy innovation requires focus on objective and agility in design and implementation. Charles Phua’s book offers a unique blend of how corporate strategy and innovation tools could support better strategies and innovation in public policy. Both government and business worlds should operate with the citizen-user in mind."

    Professor Lim Siong Guan, Professor in Practice, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, former Head of Singapore Civil Service, former Chairman of Economic Development Board and former Group President of GIC

    "As the world advances towards a post-pandemic future amidst intensifying technologization and geopolitical upheaval, greater clarity than ever is needed for sound policy making. This book provides a strategic and practicable framework to answer those imperatives"

    Professor Lim Sun Sun, Professor and Head of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, Singapore University of Technology and Design, former Nominated Member of Parliament, Singapore

    "This book is based on the author’s belief that corporate strategy and innovation tools and practices have much to offer in the practice of public policy – a conviction formed through Charles Phua’s two-decade experience as a bureaucrat-nonprofit entrepreneur, researcher, and adjunct faculty at various universities. By breaking down the public policy process into steps, and through the use of diverse examples, Charles illustrates the potential application of corporate strategies, in a manner that permits it to be transferable across political systems. Those interested in public policy are likely to find much food for thought offered in this book."

    Professor Ling San, Deputy President and Provost, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

    "Classical military strategists such as Sun Tzu have inspired corporate strategists. Public policy strategy as a growing field could benefit from learning from corporate strategy. This nexus is well articulated in Charles Phua's book which strings relevant corporate strategy frameworks to their matching policy strategy process. A highly commendable interdisciplinary effort, useful to practitioners, academics, students and public-conscious citizens."

    Professor Hwy-Chang Moon, Professor Emeritus, Graduate School of International Studies, Seoul National University, and author of The Art of Strategy: Sun Tzu, Michael Porter and Beyond 

    "In the early years of its independence, Singapore attempted any method, regardless of orthodoxy or elegance, that delivered favourable outcomes to it citizens.  Several public- sector leaders also led government-linked companies, thereby gaining valuable cross- sector experiences.  Charles Phua's book is a timely reminder that despite professionalisation of disciplines, corporate strategy may have something useful to offer the public sector in pursuing solutions to time-honoured problems."

    Joseph Y Pillay, Rector, College of Alice and Peter Tan, National University of Singapore, former Chairman (2005-2019), Council of Presidential Advisors (Singapore) and, former Chairman, Singapore International Airlines (1972-1996)

    "What makes certain decisions effective and outcomes successful will very much depend on having an in-depth policy strategy and innovation. What are the necessary inputs for formulating good policies and why some worked and some do not, are highlighted, and explained carefully in this book. This book shows that much of that often requires in turn, a good knowledge and use of business strategies as well. The author comes from an interesting mix of background experiences from utilising a variety of tools and applied techniques to bear on a number of real-life scenarios. This book is strongly recommended to readers who have keen interest in how real problems may be solved. "

    Professor Euston Quah, Albert Winsemius Chair Professor of Economics, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore; President, Economic Society of Singapore 

    "As a practicing city designer, where we think everything is political and everything is inter-disciplinary, it is a refreshing way of analysing and dissecting policy strategy innovation. It is a must read for policy makers as well as city practitioners such as us where we need consensus to design and plan future cities and future of our current cities."

    Chintan Raveshia, Cities Business Leader, Southeast Asia, Arup

    "Charles has laid out a comprehensive array of toolkits from the private sector that can be invaluable for public policy-making. These business practices may just be able to help develop solutions for addressing some of our most wicked problems in society today."

    Seah Chin Siong, President, Singapore Institute of Management, and Chairman, National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre

    "Policy strategy and innovation is growing field and often seen as a central force for increasing economic prosperity and improving economic inequality. The writer incorporate the business strategy framework into public policy process for formulation innovative public policy. The book is recommended for the policy practitioners and scholars even for the MBA students. It offers different views how to formulate innovative policy."

    Professor Agus Soehadi, Vice Rector, and former Dean of Business and Economics School, Presetiya Mulya University (Indonesia)

    "Industry 4.0 and the many disruptions the world is facing, even before the Covid-19 pandemic and the Ukraine war, has accelerated the rate of change to a level where business models, policies and skills are becoming obsolete at such a rapid pace that society as a whole struggles to keep and catch up. Policy makers cannot rely on past models because what worked in the past will also quickly become outdated. In business, cross-disciplinary knowledge has shown to yield superior results. In the book, Charles has cleverly suggested that policy making needs to also take an inter-disciplinary approach of adopting innovation and business concepts, tools, and strategies from business disciplines to yield robust policies that the world badly needs to keep the peace and prosperity of the world. Current and future policy makers should use this as a reference and guide as they take over helms of politics and policy making. "

    Professor Inderjit Singh Dhaliwal, Former Member of Parliament, Singapore, Entrepreneur and Adjunct Professor, College of Engineering, Nanyang Technological University and President, Global Start-up Committee, WBAF (World Business Angel Investment Forum) 

    "Public policy impacts everyone’s life, it does not take place in a void and not just for policy practitioners or scholars.  As the nation’s challenges get more complex and the people more educated, it needs to open itself to more public participation in policy making.  It is equally important that active citizens are able to understand and participate more meaningfully in discourses on public policy.  Charles Phua’s new book fills an important gap to facilitate this by providing a primer and applied guide on strategy-innovation in public sector.  You can sense Charles’s enthusiasm to share his deep knowledge as he has always been keen to drive more active citizenry in policymaking.  Given his role as a trainer and management consultant, this book is both useful and practical. "

    Professor Tan Thiam Soon, Institute Professor and former President, Singapore Institute of Technology

    "It is a great project, very valuable for both academics and practitioners, especially those who want to learn and integrate latest business practices in strategic management into the governance and decision making in the public sector."

    Professor Wang Xiaohu, Professor and PhD programme coordinator, Department of Public Policy, City University of Hong Kong

    "This book on Policy Strategy and Innovation by Charles Phua provides many interesting perspectives on the subject.  In doing so, he enables readers to have a broader yet insightful understanding of what policy strategy is all about.  It is also a well-researched piece of work. "

    Professor Wee Chow Hou, PhD, BBM(L), PPA, FMIS(Hon), Adjunct Professor for Strategy and Marketing, Nanyang Technological University and Singapore University of Social Sciences, author of 5 books on Sun Zi Bingfa

    "In this volume, Charles Chao Rong Phua continued his strategic pragmatism thesis and embedded it in the policy strategy process. His infusion of corporate strategy tools into the right policy process sequence is novel and requires a deep understanding of both public policy and business management disciplines to do so. This book opens the door for greater cross-fertilisation of knowledge between policy and business disciplines through policy strategy and innovation cases. Highly recommended for government and business practitioners and academics alike."

    Professor Xufeng Zhu, Executive Dean, School of Public Policy and Management, Tsinghua University