Essay on Methods and Models for Policy Analysis

According to Rich (1994), the most important methods of political analysis are the methods of group decision-making. Their importance is conditioned by the possibility of use not one, but several experts in analytical procedures, and this approach leads to a significant improvement of the situation analysis, forecasts and emerging policy decisions in a case of qualified organization. At the same time, the factor used during examination of a group of methods is considered to be a key factor because the results of the group assessment may be low without the use of this factor.

Observing different models, Rich (1994) stated that “policy models are simplified representations of selected aspects of a problem situation.” In such a way, policy models are always useful and necessary in all situations of their proper implementation because their use is not matter of choice, since the time when everyone uses some kind of model to simplify problem situations. Fischer (2003) added that “policy models selectively distort problem situations. Models cannot discrim­inate between essential and nonessential questions; nor can they explain, pre­dict, evaluate, or recommend, since these judgments are external to the model and not part of it. The most important dimensions of policy models are their purpose (descriptive versus normative), form of expression (verbal, symbolic, procedural), and methodological assumptions (surrogate versus perspective). Policy models are perspectives and not surrogates; the use of models as surrogates increases the probability in attempting to solve ill-structured problems.”

There may be other grounds for typology of political methods, for example their division into qualitative and quantitative, which has become particularly urgent in the second half of the XX century. Qualitative methods have appeared much earlier than quantitative. If the first group of methods is based on the study and definition of quality characteristics and properties of the political object, the second is based on a direct or indirect measurement, implying the use of symbolic mathematical formalization and quantification of these parameters. It should be noted that it is very difficult to define the line between qualitative and quantitative approaches in modern techniques of political science research. A typical case of this difficulty includes modern comparative political researches, encompassing dozens, even hundreds of objects to be compared, which are conducted using both qualitative approaches and advanced mathematical and cybernetic means of collecting and processing information. The vast majority of such studies is associated with political micro objects (research of parties, the phenomena of participation, leadership, etc.), but today there are many projects in which the objects for comparison are the macro systems – the state or country that is almost impossible to analyze manually, without the involvement of mathematical apparatus and synthesis of dozens of national statistics with the help of computers.

In conclusion, it is important to pay an attention to the fact that the proposed techniques can be used for any of the stages of policy analysis. At the same time, some techniques and models are preferable to specific units of political analysis. For example, a political modeling is more applicable to the situation analysis, while the group methods of expert judgment are used just to make a decision.

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