Title: Policy volatility and the propensity of policies to fail: dealing with uncertainty, maliciousness and compliance in public policy-making

Authors: Michael Howlett; Ching Leong

Addresses: Department of Political Science, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada ' Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, Singapore

Abstract: Most policy research to date has underemphasised the difficulties encountered in developing and putting policies into practice. Some of these problems are inherent to policy-making in contexts that are highly uncertain, while others arise when policy-makers act maliciously or policy-takers fail to comply with government wishes. These risks of uncertainty, maliciousness and non-compliance contribute to policy volatility (the risk of failure). The article stresses the need for improved risk management and mitigation strategies in policy formulation and policy designs if volatility is to be minimised. It sets out these three 'inherent vices' of policy-making and develops an approach borrowed from product failure management in manufacturing and portfolio management in finance to help better assess and manage policy risk.

Keywords: policy risk; policy volatility; uncertainty; maliciousness; compliance; non-compliance; risk management.

DOI: 10.1504/IJPP.2022.127431

International Journal of Public Policy, 2022 Vol.16 No.5/6, pp.236 - 252

Received: 08 Sep 2021
Accepted: 24 Feb 2022

Published online: 05 Dec 2022 *

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