Policy Analysis is What Information Systems are Not

  • Aaron Wildavsky

Abstract

The task of analysis is to create problems, preferences tempered by possibilities, which are worth solving. A difficulty is not necessarily a problem; that depends on what I can do about it, including whether it is worth my while to try. My inability to go to Mars, a famous gap between aspirations and actuality, is not a problem but a longing to overcome my limitations. My inability to explain the influence of the tides on the rise and fall of the stock market is not a problem unless I have a hypothesis suggesting how I might influence factors by which the two events might be linked. Only by suggesting solutions, such as programs linking governmental resources with social objectives, can we understand what might be done. Policy analysis involves creating problems that are solvable by specific organizations in a particular arena of action. A problem in policy analysis, then, cannot exist apart from a proposed solution, and its solution is part of an organization, a structure of incentives without which there can be no will to act.

Keywords

Arena Stake Rote 

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Notes

  1. 2.
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    See Wildaysky, The Politics of the Budgetary Process, 3rd edition (Boston: Little, Brown, 1978 ).Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Aaron Wildavsky 1979

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  • Aaron Wildavsky

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