1st Edition

The Policy Design Primer Choosing the Right Tools for the Job

By Michael Howlett Copyright 2019
    152 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    152 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The Policy Design Primer is a concise and practical introduction to the principles and elements of policy design in contemporary governance. Guiding students through the study of the instruments used by governments in carrying out their tasks, adapting to, and altering their environments, this book:

    • Examines the range of substantive and procedural policy instruments that together comprise the toolbox from which governments select specific tools expected to resolve policy problems,
    • Considers the principles behind the selection and use of specific types of instruments in contemporary government,
    • Addresses the issues of instrument mixes and their (re)design in a discussion of the future research agenda of policy design and
    • Discusses several current trends in instrument use often linked to factors such as globalization and the increasingly networked nature of modern society.

    This readily digestible and informative book provides a comprehensive overview of this essential component of modern governance, featuring helpful definitions of key concepts and further reading.

    This book is essential reading for all students of public policy, administration and management as well as more broadly for relevant courses in health, social welfare, environment, development and local government, in addition to those managers and practitioners involved in Executive Education and policy design work on the ground.

    Part I: Policy Design in the Modern State

    1. Basic Concepts and Vocabulary

    2. Systematically Studying Policy Design: The Logic of Tool Use

    Part II: The Building Blocks of Policy Designs

    3. Organizational Implementation Tools

    4. Authoritative Implementation Tools

    5. Financial Implementation Tools

    6. Information-based Implementation Tools

    Part III: Principles for Designing Policies and Programmes

    7. Assembling and Evaluating an Effective Policy Design


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

    "Michael Howlett’s Policy Design Primer usefully distils over forty years of research and practice into a single, highly accessible volume. The bad news is that a surprisingly large amount of public policy fails to deliver what it promises. But armed with this book, students and practitioners are more likely to discover what works, when and for whom – vital pre-requisites for more effective societal problem solving." - Professor Andrew Jordan, University of East Anglia, UK.

    "How might governments choose the most appropriate tool for achieving desired policy goals and objectives? How might they uncover innovative and durable solutions? Howlett’s The Policy Design Primer: Choosing the Right Tools for the Job provides, in one place, the critical theoretical, conceptual and analytical tools for making informed decisions in a highly complex and globalized world. The book is must reading for government and bureaucratic officials seeking to manage complex problems that often demand, and can benefit from, drawing on procedural tools that integrate key stakeholders into public management design and practice, and substantive instruments that can steer policy subsystems towards meaningful results. A tour deforce in its integration of conceptual breadth, analytical scope and practical insights." – Professor Benjamin Cashore, Yale University, USA.