Policy Instruments and Policy Capacity

  • B. Guy Peters


Governing involves making a number of strategic choices that will have consequences for the government’s capacity to achieve its stated policy goals. One of the more important decisions for the government is the choice of instruments to use to implement its programmes. Part of the design of any policy, then, is choosing how to achieve its goals. For example if the government wants to encourage young people from low-income families to engage in higher education it could (among other things) provide such students with grants or loans, allow their parents to deduct the costs of tuition from their taxable income, or provide direct support to universities. As a more extreme intervention, it might mandate universities to admit a number of such students free of charge. Unfortunately policy makers often assume that almost any form of intervention will be adequate, make their choice of instruments on the basis of familiarity, and inadequately assess the effects of using certain mechanisms for intervention on complex social and economic processes (see Linder and Peters, 1998).


Private Sector Public Sector Civil Society Policy Instrument Policy Goal 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bardach, E. and R. A. Kagan (1982) Going by the Book: The Problem of Regulatory Unreasonableness (Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press).Google Scholar
  2. Bemelmans-Videc, M.-L., R. C. Rist and E. Vedung (1998) Carrots, Sticks and Sermons: Policy Instruments and Their Evaluation (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books).Google Scholar
  3. Borras, S. and K. Jacobssen (2004) ‘The Open Method of Coordination and New Governance Patterns in the European Union’, Journal of European Public Policy, vol. 11.Google Scholar
  4. Bovens, M. A. P., P. ‘t Hart and B. G. Peters (2001) Success and Failure in Public Governance (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brehm, J. and S. Gates (1999) Working, Shirking and Sabotage: Bureaucratic Response to a Democratic Public (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press).Google Scholar
  6. Cobb, R. W. and C. D. Elder (1983) Participation in American Politics (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press).Google Scholar
  7. Duran, P. (1999) Penser l’action social (Paris: Librairie Générale de Droit et de Jurisprudence).Google Scholar
  8. Galbraith, J. K. (1958) The Affluent Society (New York: New America Library [Mentor Books]).Google Scholar
  9. Grindle, M. S. (1997) Getting Good Government: Capacity Building in the Public Sectors of Developing Countries (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press).Google Scholar
  10. Heisler, M. O. (1974) ‘The European Policy Model’, in M. O. Heisler (ed.), Politics in Europe (New York: David McKay).Google Scholar
  11. Héritier, A. (2002) ‘New Modes of Governance in Europe: Policy-Making Without Legislating?’, in A. Héritier (éd.), Common Goods: Reinventing European and International Governance (London: Rowman and Littlefield).Google Scholar
  12. Hibbing, J. R. and E. Theiss-Morse (2002) Stealth Democracy: American’s Beliefs About How Government Should Work (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hjern, B. and D. O. Porter (1980) ‘Implementation Structures: A New Unit of Administrative Analysis’, Organisational Studies vol. 2, pp. 183–207.Google Scholar
  14. Hood, C. (1974) The Tools of Government (Chatham, NJ: Chatham House).Google Scholar
  15. Hoornbeek, J. L. (2004) ‘Runaway Bureaucracy or Congressional Control? Water Pollution Policymaking and Administration in the American States’, PhD dissertation, Department of Political Science, University of Pittsburgh.Google Scholar
  16. Howard, C. (1997) America’s Hidden Welfare State (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press).Google Scholar
  17. Howlett, M. and M. Ramesh (2003) Studying Public Policy: Policy Cycles and Policy Subsystems (Don Mills, Ont: Oxford University Press).Google Scholar
  18. Kettl, D. F. (2001) ‘Managing Indirect Government’, in L. M. Salamon (ed.), Handbook of Policy Instruments (New York: Oxford University Press).Google Scholar
  19. Kickert, W. J. M., E.-H. Klijn and J. F. M. Koppenjans (1997) Managing Complex Networks (London: Sage).Google Scholar
  20. Kirschen, E. S. (1964) Economic Policy in Our Time: General Theory (Chicago, IL: Rand-McNally).Google Scholar
  21. Komesar, N. K. (1994) Imperfect Alternatives: Choosing Institutions in Law, Economics and Public Policy (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).Google Scholar
  22. Linder, S. H. and B. G. Peters (1998) ‘Conceptual Frames Underlying the Selection of Policy Instruments’, in B. G. Peters and F. K. M. Van Nispen (eds), Instruments and Public Policy (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar).Google Scholar
  23. Listhaug, O. and M. Wiberg (1995) ‘Confidence in Political and Private Institutions’, in H.-D. Klingemann and D. Fuchs (eds), Citizens and the State (Oxford: Oxford University Press).Google Scholar
  24. Lowi, T. J. (1969) The End of liberalism (New York: W.W. Norton).Google Scholar
  25. Lundqvist, L. (1980) The Tortoise and the Hare: Clean Air Policies in the United States and Sweden (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press).Google Scholar
  26. Majone, G. (1996) ‘A European Regulatory State’, in J. J. Richardson (ed.), European Union: Power and Policymaking (London: Routledge).Google Scholar
  27. Mann, M. (1997) ‘Has Globalization Ended the Rise and Rise of the Nation State?’, Review of International Political Economy, vol. 4, pp. 477–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Migdal, J. (1988) Strong Societies and Weak States (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press).Google Scholar
  29. Morth, U. (2003) Soft Law in Governance and Regulation: An Interdisciplinary Approach (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar).Google Scholar
  30. Nye, J. S., P. D. Zelikow and D. C. King (1997) Why People Don’t Trust Government (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press).Google Scholar
  31. Peters, B. G. (1999) The Commission and Implementation in the European Union: Is There an Implementation Deficit?’, in N. Nugent (ed.), At the Heart of the Union, 2nd edn (London: Macmillan).Google Scholar
  32. Peters, B. G. (2001) The Politics of Policy Instruments’, in L. M. Salamon (ed.), Handbook of Policy Instruments (New York: Oxford University Press).Google Scholar
  33. Peters, B. G. (2002a) ‘Contracts and Resource Allocation: Markets and Law as the Basis for Policy Instruments’, in A. Heritier (ed.), Common Goods (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield).Google Scholar
  34. Peters, B. G. (2002b) The Future of Governance: Bringing the State Back In’, in J. Moon and B. Stone (eds), Power and Freedom in Modern Politics (Perth: University of Western Australia Press).Google Scholar
  35. Peters, B. G. (2004) ‘An Agenda for Future Research on Policy Instruments’, in P. Eliadas, M. Hill and M. Howlett (eds), From Instrument Choice to Governance (Montreal: McGill/Queens University Press).Google Scholar
  36. Pollack, M. (2003) The Engines of European Integration: Delegation, Agency and Agenda-Setting (Oxford: Oxford University Press).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Putnam, R. D. (1993) Making Democracy Work (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press).Google Scholar
  38. Richardson, J. J. (1984) Policy Styles in Western Europe (London: George Allen and Unwin).Google Scholar
  39. Rosenau, J. N. and E.-O. Czempiel (eds) (1992) Governance without Government: Order and Change in World Politics (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press).Google Scholar
  40. Salamon, L. M. (2001a) ‘The New Governance and the Tools of Public Action: An Introduction’, in L. M. Salamon (ed.), Handbook of Policy Instruments (New York: Oxford University Press).Google Scholar
  41. Salamon, L. M. (2001b) Handbook of Policy Instruments (New York: Oxford University Press).Google Scholar
  42. Snellen, I. (2001) Public Service in an Information Age, in B. G. Peters and D. J. Savoie (eds), Governance in the 21st Century: Revitalizing the Public Sector (Montreal: McGill/Queens University Press).Google Scholar
  43. Sorenson, E. and J. Torfing (2003) ‘Network Politics, Political Capital, and Democracy’, International Journal of Public Administration, vol. 26, pp. 609–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Stolle, D. and T. R. Rochon (1998) ‘Are All Associations Alike?’, American Behavioral Scientist, vol. 42, pp. 47–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Strange, S. (1996) The Retreat of the State: The Diffusion of Power in the World Economy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Vogel, D. and R. Kagan (2002) How Globalization affects National Regulatory Policies (Berkeley, CA: University of California International and Area Studies).Google Scholar
  47. Waterman, R. W. and K. J. Meier (1998) ‘Principal-Agent Models: an Expansion?’, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, vol. 8, pp. 173–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Weller, P., H. Bakvis and R. A. W. Rhodes (eds) (1997) The Hollow Crown: Countervailing Trends in Core Executives (New York: St. Martin’s Press).Google Scholar
  49. Winter, S. (2003) ‘Implementation Perspective: Status and Reconsideration’, in B. G. Peters andj. Pierre (eds) The Handbook of Public Administration (London: Sage).Google Scholar
  50. Woodside, K. (1986) ‘Policy Instruments and the Study of Public Policy’, Canadian Journal of Political Science, vol. 19, pp. 775–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Wünder, B. (1995) Les influences du ‘modele’ Napoleonien d’administration sur l’organisation administrative des autres pays, Cahiers d’Histoire de l’Administration, vol. 4 (Brussels: HAS).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. Guy Peters

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations