Title: A systems tool for structuring public policy problems and design of policy options

Authors: Osama Ibrahim; Aron Larsson

Addresses: Department of Computer and Systems Sciences, Stockholm University, Kista, 16407, Sweden ' Department of Computer and Systems Sciences, Stockholm University, Kista, 16407, Sweden; Department of Information Systems and Technology, Mid Sweden University, SE-851 70 Sundsvall, Sweden

Abstract: Systems analysis allows quantitative empirical testing of models that exist in the study of public policy. Simulation and visualisation techniques can help policy makers to reduce uncertainties on the possible impacts of policies. This paper presents a new tool for systems modelling and simulation of policy problems to support the problem analysis, the design of policy options and impact assessment activities. The tool facilitates the cognitive activity of representing complex mental models using system dynamics simulation modelling by defining standards and a procedure for policy modelling. We propose a new policy-oriented problem structuring method (PSM), the 'labelled causal mapping'. The method supports scenario-based dynamic simulation and provides graphical representations of the involved actors, key variables, control flows and causal dependencies in a policy decision situation. A web-based tool prototype has been implemented in a Node.js environment. Two real policy problems are presented for demonstration of the use of the prototype.

Keywords: public policy analysis; policy options; impact assessment; systems thinking; exploratory modelling; gaming simulation; scenario planning; problem structuring; causal mapping; visualisation; European Union.

DOI: 10.1504/IJEG.2017.084646

International Journal of Electronic Governance, 2017 Vol.9 No.1/2, pp.4 - 26

Accepted: 07 Mar 2017
Published online: 19 Jun 2017 *

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