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Policy is a deliberate system of guidelines to guide decisions and achieve rational outcomes. A policy is a statement of intent and is implemented as a procedure or protocol. Policies are generally adopted by a governance body within an organization. Policies can assist in both subjective and objective decision making. Policies used in subjective decision-making usually assist senior management with decisions that must be based on the relative merits of a number of factors, and as a result, are often hard to test objectively, e.g. work–life balance policy... Moreover, Governments and other institutions have policies in the form of laws, regulations, procedures, administrative actions, incentives and voluntary practices. Frequently, resource allocations mirror policy decisions.


Policy is a blueprint of the organizational activities which are repetitive/routine in nature.

In contrast, policies to assist in objective decision-making are usually operational in nature and can be objectively tested, e.g. password policy. [1]

The term may apply to government, public sector organizations and groups, as well as individuals, Presidential executive orders, corporate privacy policies, and parliamentary rules of order are all examples of policy. Policy differs from rules or law. While the law can compel or prohibit behaviors (e.g. a law requiring the payment of taxes on income), policy merely guides actions toward those that are most likely to achieve the desired outcome. [2]

Policy or policy study may also refer to the process of making important organizational decisions, including the identification of different alternatives such as programs or spending priorities, and choosing among them on the basis of the impact they will have. Policies can be understood as political, managerial, financial, and administrative mechanisms arranged to reach explicit goals. In public corporate finance, a critical accounting policy is a policy for a firm/company or an industry that is considered to have a notably high subjective element, and that has a material impact on the financial statements.[ citation needed ]


Intended effects and policy-design

The intended effects of a policy vary widely according to the organization and the context in which they are made. Broadly, policies are typically instituted to avoid some negative effect that has been noticed in the organization, or to seek some positive benefit.[ citation needed ]

A meta-analysis of policy studies concluded that international treaties that aim to foster global cooperation have mostly failed to produce their intended effects in addressing global challenges, and sometimes may have led to unintended harmful or net negative effects. The study suggests enforcement mechanisms are the "only modifiable treaty design choice" with the potential to improve the effectiveness. [3] [4]

Corporate purchasing policies provide an example of how organizations attempt to avoid negative effects. Many large companies have policies that all purchases above a certain value must be performed through a purchasing process. By requiring this standard purchasing process through policy, the organization can limit waste and standardize the way purchasing is done. [ citation needed ]

The State of California provides an example of benefit-seeking policy. In recent years, the numbers of hybrid cars in California has increased dramatically, in part because of policy changes in Federal law that provided USD $1,500 in tax credits (since phased out) as well as the use of high-occupancy vehicle lanes to hybrid owners (no loew hybrid vehicles). In this case, the organization (state and/or federal government) created an effect (increased ownership and use of hybrid vehicles) through policy (tax breaks, highway lanes). [ citation needed ]


Policies frequently have side effects or unintended consequences. Because the environments that policies seek to influence or manipulate are typically complex adaptive systems (e.g. governments, societies, large companies), making a policy change can have counterintuitive results. For example, a government may make a policy decision to raise taxes, in hopes of increasing overall tax revenue. Depending on the size of the tax increase, this may have the overall effect of reducing tax revenue by causing capital flight or by creating a rate so high that citizens are deterred from earning the money that is taxed. (See the Laffer curve.) [ citation needed ]

The policy formulation process theoretically includes an attempt to assess as many areas of potential policy impact as possible, to lessen the chances that a given policy will have unexpected or unintended consequences. [5]


Example of the policy cycle concept. Policycycle.png
Example of the policy cycle concept.

In political science, the policy cycle is a tool used for analyzing the development of a policy. It can also be referred to as a "stages model" or "stages heuristic". It is thus a rule of thumb rather than the actual reality of how policy is created, but has been influential in how political scientists looked at policy in general. [6] It was developed as a theory from Harold Lasswell's work. It is called the policy cycle as the final stage (evaluation) often leads back to the first stage (problem definition), thus restarting the cycle.

Harold Lasswell's popular model of the policy cycle divided the process into seven distinct stages, asking questions of both how and why public policies should be made. [7] With the stages ranging from (1) intelligence, (2) promotion, (3) prescription, (4) invocation, (5) application, (6) termination and (7) appraisal, this process inherently attempts to combine policy implementation to formulated policy goals. [8]

One version by James E. Anderson, in his Public Policy-Making (1974) has the following stages:

  1. Agenda setting (Problem identification) – The recognition of certain subject as a problem demanding further government attention.
  2. Policy formulation – Involves exploring a variation of options or alternative courses of action available for addressing the problem. (appraisal, dialogue, formulation, and consolidation)
  3. Decision-making – Government decides on an ultimate course of action, whether to perpetuate the policy status quo or alter it. (Decision could be 'positive', 'negative', or 'no-action')
  4. Implementation – The ultimate decision made earlier will be put into practice.
  5. Evaluation – Assesses the effectiveness of a public policy in terms of its perceived intentions and results. Policy actors attempt to determine whether the course of action is a success or failure by examining its impact and outcomes.

Anderson's version of the stages model is the most common and widely recognised out of the models. However, it could also be seen as flawed. According to Paul A. Sabatier, the model has "outlived its usefulness" and should be replaced. [9] The model's issues have led to a paradoxical situation in which current research and updated versions of the model continue to rely on the framework created by Anderson. But the very concept of the stages model has been discredited, which attacks the cycle's status as a heuristic. [10]

Due to these problems, alternative and newer versions of the model have aimed to create a more comprehensive view of the policy cycle. An eight step policy cycle is developed in detail in The Australian Policy Handbook by Peter Bridgman and Glyn Davis: (now with Catherine Althaus in its 4th and 5th editions)

  1. Issue identification
  2. Policy analysis
  3. Consultation (which permeates the entire process)
  4. Policy instrument development
  5. Building coordination and coalitions
  6. Program Design: Decision making
  7. Policy Implementation
  8. Policy Evaluation

The Althaus, Bridgman & Davis model is heuristic and iterative. It is intentionally normative [ clarification needed ] and not meant to be diagnostic [ clarification needed ] or predictive. Policy cycles are typically characterized as adopting a classical approach, and tend to describe processes from the perspective of policy decision makers. Accordingly, some postpositivist academics challenge cyclical models as unresponsive and unrealistic, preferring systemic and more complex models. [11] They consider a broader range of actors involved in the policy space that includes civil society organisations, the media, intellectuals, think tanks or policy research institutes, corporations, lobbyists, etc.


Policies are typically promulgated through official written documents. Policy documents often come with the endorsement or signature of the executive powers within an organization to legitimize the policy and demonstrate that it is considered in force. Such documents often have standard formats that are particular to the organization issuing the policy. While such formats differ in form, policy documents usually contain certain standard components including:[ citation needed ]

Some policies may contain additional sections, including:


The American political scientist Theodore J. Lowi proposed four types of policy, namely distributive, redistributive, regulatory and constituent in his article "Four Systems of Policy, Politics and Choice" and in "American Business, Public Policy, Case Studies and Political Theory". Policy addresses the intent of the organization, whether government, business, professional, or voluntary. Policy is intended to affect the "real" world, by guiding the decisions that are made. Whether they are formally written or not, most organizations have identified policies. [12]

Policies may be classified in many different ways. The following is a sample of several different types of policies broken down by their effect on members of the organization. [12]


Distributive policies extend goods and services to members of an organization, as well as distributing the costs of the goods/services amongst the members of the organization. Examples include government policies that impact spending for welfare, public education, highways, and public safety, or a professional organization's benefits plan. [12]


Regulatory policies, or mandates, limit the discretion of individuals and agencies, or otherwise compel certain types of behavior. These policies are generally thought to be best applied when good behavior can be easily defined and bad behavior can be easily regulated and punished through fines or sanctions. An example of a fairly successful public regulatory policy is that of a highway speed limit. [12]


Constituent policies create executive power entities, or deal with laws. Constituent policies also deal with fiscal policy in some circumstances. [12]


Policies are dynamic; they are not just static lists of goals or laws. Policy blueprints have to be implemented, often with unexpected results. Social policies are what happens 'on the ground' when they are implemented, as well as what happens at the decision making or legislative stage. [12]

When the term policy is used, it may also refer to: [12]

The actions the organization actually takes may often vary significantly from stated policy. This difference is sometimes caused by political compromise over policy, while in other situations it is caused by lack of policy implementation and enforcement. Implementing policy may have unexpected results, stemming from a policy whose reach extends further than the problem it was originally crafted to address. Additionally, unpredictable results may arise from selective or idiosyncratic enforcement of policy. [12]

Types of policy analysis include:

These qualifiers can be combined, so one could, for example, have a stationary-memoryless-index policy.

Notable schools

Balsillie School of International Affairs at the CIGI Campus Centre for International Governance Innovation 2.jpg
Balsillie School of International Affairs at the CIGI Campus
Blavatnik School of Government building Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford.JPG
Blavatnik School of Government building


Induction of policies

In contemporary systems of market-oriented economics and of homogeneous voting of delegates and decisions, policy mixes are usually introduced depending on factors that include popularity in the public (influenced via media and education as well as by cultural identity), contemporary economics (such as what is beneficial or a burden in the long- and near-term within it) and a general state of international competition (often the focus of geopolitics). Broadly, considerations include political competition with other parties and social stability as well as national interests within the framework of global dynamics. [13] [ additional citation(s) needed ]

Policies or policy-elements can be designed and proposed by a multitude of actors or collaborating actor-networks in various ways. [14] Alternative options as well as organisations and decision-makers that would be responsible for enacting these policies – or explaining their rejection – can be identified. "Policy sequencing" is a concept that integrates mixes of existing or hypothetical policies and arranges them in a sequential order. The use of such frameworks may make complex polycentric governance for the achievement of goals such as climate change mitigation and stoppage of deforestation more easily achievable or more effective, fair, efficient, legitimate and rapidly implemented. [15] [16] [17] [18] [ additional citation(s) needed ]

Contemporary ways of policy-making or decision-making may depend on exogenously-driven shocks that "undermine institutionally entrenched policy equilibria" and may not always be functional in terms of sufficiently preventing and solving problems, especially when unpopular policies, regulation of influential entities with vested interests, [18] international coordination and non-reactive strategic long-term thinking and management are needed. [19] In that sense, "reactive sequencing" refers to "the notion that early events in a sequence set in motion a chain of causally linked reactions and counter-reactions which trigger subsequent development". [20] This is a concept separate to policy sequencing in that the latter may require actions from a multitude of parties at different stages for progress of the sequence, rather than an initial "shock", force-exertion or catalysis of chains of events.

In the modern highly interconnected world, polycentric governance has become ever more important – such "requires a complex combination of multiple levels and diverse types of organizations drawn from the public, private, and voluntary sectors that have overlapping realms of responsibility and functional capacities". [21] Key components of policies include command-and-control measures, enabling measures, monitoring, incentives and disincentives. [15]

Science-based policy, related to the more narrow concept of evidence-based policy, may have also become more important. A review about worldwide pollution as a major cause of death – where it found little progress, suggests that successful control of conjoined threats such as pollution, climate change, and biodiversity loss requires a global, "formal science–policy interface", e.g. to "inform intervention, influence research, and guide funding". [22] Broadly, science–policy interfaces include both science in policy and science for policy. [23]

Other uses of the term

See also


  1. Office, Publications. "What is policy". sydney.edu.au. Retrieved 15 April 2018.
  2. Voican, Mădălina (2008). "Government's Role in Coordination of Decision- Making Process". Revista de Științe Politics. Journal of Political Science (17): 26–31.
  3. "Most international treaties are ineffective, Canadian study finds". CTVNews. 3 August 2022. Retrieved 15 September 2022.
  4. Hoffman, Steven J.; Baral, Prativa; Rogers Van Katwyk, Susan; Sritharan, Lathika; Hughsam, Matthew; Randhawa, Harkanwal; Lin, Gigi; Campbell, Sophie; Campus, Brooke; Dantas, Maria; Foroughian, Neda; Groux, Gaëlle; Gunn, Elliot; Guyatt, Gordon; Habibi, Roojin; Karabit, Mina; Karir, Aneesh; Kruja, Krista; Lavis, John N.; Lee, Olivia; Li, Binxi; Nagi, Ranjana; Naicker, Kiyuri; Røttingen, John-Arne; Sahar, Nicola; Srivastava, Archita; Tejpar, Ali; Tran, Maxwell; Zhang, Yu-qing; Zhou, Qi; Poirier, Mathieu J. P. (9 August 2022). "International treaties have mostly failed to produce their intended effects". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 119 (32): e2122854119. doi:10.1073/pnas.2122854119. ISSN   0027-8424. PMC   9372541 . PMID   35914153.
  5. Deleon, Peter; Steelman, Toddi A. (2001). "Making public policy programs effective and relevant: The role of the policy sciences". Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. 20 (1): 163–171. doi:10.1002/1520-6688(200124)20:1<163::aid-pam2011>3.0.co;2-w. ISSN   0276-8739.
  6. Nakamura 1987.
  7. Laswell, H(1971). A Pre-View of Policy Sciences. New York, Elsevier.
  8. Howlett, M. (2011) Designing public policies: principles and instruments. Routledge.
  9. Sabatier, Paul A. (1991-06). "Toward Better Theories of the Policy Process". PS: Political Science and Politics. 24 (2): 147. doi:10.2307/419923.{{cite journal}}: Check date values in: |date= (help)
  10. Fischer, Frank; Miller, Gerald J. (2006-12-21). Handbook of Public Policy Analysis: Theory, Politics, and Methods. CRC Press. ISBN   978-1-4200-1700-7.
  11. Young, John and Enrique Mendizabal. Helping researchers become policy entrepreneurs, Overseas Development Institute, London, September 2009.
  12. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Lowi, Theodore J. (July 1972). "Four Systems of Policy, Politics, and Choice". Public Administration Review. 32 (4): 298–310. doi:10.2307/974990. JSTOR   974990.
  13. Birkland, Thomas A. (2 July 2019). An Introduction to the Policy Process: Theories, Concepts, and Models of Public Policy Making (5 ed.). Routledge. ISBN   978-1-351-02394-8.
  14. Taeihagh, Araz (1 June 2017). "Network-centric policy design". Policy Sciences. 50 (2): 317–338. doi:10.1007/s11077-016-9270-0. ISSN   1573-0891. S2CID   157209343.
  15. 1 2 Furumo, Paul R.; Lambin, Eric F. (27 October 2021). "Policy sequencing to reduce tropical deforestation". Global Sustainability. 4. doi:10.1017/sus.2021.21. ISSN   2059-4798. S2CID   239890357.
  16. Meckling, Jonas; Sterner, Thomas; Wagner, Gernot (December 2017). "Policy sequencing toward decarbonization". Nature Energy. 2 (12): 918–922. Bibcode:2017NatEn...2..918M. doi:10.1038/s41560-017-0025-8. ISSN   2058-7546. S2CID   158217818.
  17. Pahle, Michael; Burtraw, Dallas; Flachsland, Christian; Kelsey, Nina; Biber, Eric; Meckling, Jonas; Edenhofer, Ottmar; Zysman, John (October 2018). "Sequencing to ratchet up climate policy stringency". Nature Climate Change. 8 (10): 861–867. Bibcode:2018NatCC...8..861P. doi:10.1038/s41558-018-0287-6. ISSN   1758-6798. S2CID   92543128.
  18. 1 2 "Timing is everything: Researchers reveal why the right sequence of policies is essential to slow deforestation". Stanford University . Retrieved 23 November 2021.
  19. Howlett, Michael (December 2009). "Process Sequencing Policy Dynamics: Beyond Homeostasis and Path Dependency". Journal of Public Policy. 29 (3): 241–262. doi:10.1017/S0143814X09990158. ISSN   1469-7815. S2CID   155023873.
  20. Daugbjerg, Carsten (1 April 2009). "Sequencing in public policy: the evolution of the CAP over a decade". Journal of European Public Policy. 16 (3): 395–411. doi:10.1080/13501760802662698. ISSN   1350-1763. S2CID   153785609.
  21. Carlisle, Keith; Gruby, Rebecca L. (2019). "Polycentric Systems of Governance: A Theoretical Model for the Commons". Policy Studies Journal. 47 (4): 927–952. doi:10.1111/psj.12212. ISSN   1541-0072.
  22. Fuller, Richard; Landrigan, Philip J; Balakrishnan, Kalpana; Bathan, Glynda; Bose-O'Reilly, Stephan; Brauer, Michael; Caravanos, Jack; Chiles, Tom; Cohen, Aaron; Corra, Lilian; Cropper, Maureen; Ferraro, Greg; Hanna, Jill; Hanrahan, David; Hu, Howard; Hunter, David; Janata, Gloria; Kupka, Rachael; Lanphear, Bruce; Lichtveld, Maureen; Martin, Keith; Mustapha, Adetoun; Sanchez-Triana, Ernesto; Sandilya, Karti; Schaefli, Laura; Shaw, Joseph; Seddon, Jessica; Suk, William; Téllez-Rojo, Martha María; Yan, Chonghuai (June 2022). "Pollution and health: a progress update". The Lancet Planetary Health. 6 (6): e535–e547. doi:10.1016/S2542-5196(22)00090-0. PMID   35594895. S2CID   248905224.
  23. "Science-Policy Interface Platform". Major Group for Children and Youth. Retrieved 10 July 2022.

Related Research Articles

Public policy is an institutionalized proposal or a decided set of elements like laws, regulations, guidelines, and actions to solve or address relevant and real-world problems, guided by a conception and often implemented by programs. Public policy can be considered to be the sum of government direct and indirect activities and has been conceptualized in a variety of ways.

Accountability, in terms of ethics and governance, is equated with answerability, blameworthiness, liability, and the expectation of account-giving. As in an aspect of governance, it has been central to discussions related to problems in the public sector, nonprofit and private (corporate) and individual contexts. In leadership roles, accountability is the acknowledgment and assumption of responsibility for actions, products, decisions, and policies including the administration, governance, and implementation within the scope of the role or employment position and encompassing the obligation to report, explain and be answerable for resulting consequences.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Planning</span> Regarding the activities required to achieve a desired goal

Planning is the process of thinking regarding the activities required to achieve a desired goal. Planning is based on foresight, the fundamental capacity for mental time travel. The evolution of forethought, the capacity to think ahead, is considered to have been a prime mover in human evolution. Planning is a fundamental property of intelligent behavior. It involves the use of logic and imagination to visualise not only a desired end result, but the steps necessary to achieve that result.

Development communication refers to the use of communication to facilitate social development. Development communication engages stakeholders and policy makers, establishes conducive environments, assesses risks and opportunities and promotes information exchange to create positive social change via sustainable development. Development communication techniques include information dissemination and education, behavior change, social marketing, social mobilization, media advocacy, communication for social change, and community participation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Public administration</span> Implementation of government policy

Public Administration or Public Policy and Administration is the implementation of public policy, administration of government establishment, management of non-profit establishment, and also a subfield of political science taught in public policy schools that studies this implementation and prepares civil servants, especially those in administrative positions for working in the public sector, voluntary sector, some industries in the private sector dealing with government relations and regulatory affairs, and those working as think tank researchers. As a "field of inquiry with a diverse scope" whose fundamental goal is to "advance management and policies so that government can function." Some of the various definitions which have been offered for the term are: "the management of public programs"; the "translation of politics into the reality that citizens see every day"; and "the study of government decision making, the analysis of the policies themselves, the various inputs that have produced them, and the inputs necessary to produce alternative policies." The word public administration is the combination of two words—public and administration. In every sphere of social, economic and political life there is administration which means that for the proper functioning of the organization or institution it must be properly ruled or managed and from this concept emerges the idea of administration.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">E-democracy</span> Use of information and communication technology in political and governance processes

E-democracy, also known as digital democracy or Internet democracy, is the use of information and communication technology (ICT) in political and governance processes. The term is believed to have been coined by digital activist Steven Clift. E-democracy incorporates 21st-century information and communications technology to promote democracy; such technologies include civic technology and government technology. It is a form of government in which all adult citizens are presumed to be eligible to participate equally in the proposal, development and creation of laws.

Policy analysis is a technique used in the public administration sub-field of political science to enable civil servants, nonprofit organizations, and others to examine and evaluate the available options to implement the goals of laws and elected officials. The process is also used in the administration of large organizations with complex policies. It has been defined as the process of "determining which of various policies will achieve a given set of goals in light of the relations between the policies and the goals."

Governance is the process of interactions through the laws, norms, power or language of an organized society over a social system. It is done by the government of a state, by a market, or by a network. It is the decision-making among the actors involved in a collective problem that leads to the creation, reinforcement, or reproduction of social norms and institutions". In lay terms, it could be described as the political processes that exist in and between formal institutions.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Diffusion of innovations</span> Theory on how and why new ideas spread

Diffusion of innovations is a theory that seeks to explain how, why, and at what rate new ideas and technology spread. Everett Rogers, a professor of communication studies, popularized the theory in his book Diffusion of Innovations; the book was first published in 1962, and is now in its fifth edition (2003). Rogers argues that diffusion is the process by which an innovation is communicated over time among the participants in a social system. The origins of the diffusion of innovations theory are varied and span multiple disciplines.

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In politics, a political agenda is a list of subjects or problems (issues) to which government officials as well as individuals outside the government are paying serious attention to at any given time.

Multi-level governance is a term used to describe the way power is spread vertically between many levels of government and horizontally across multiple quasi-government and non-governmental organizations and actors. This situation develops because many countries have multiple levels of government including local, regional, state, national or federal, and many other organisations with interests in policy decisions and outcomes. International governance also operates based on multi-level governance principles. Multi-level governance can be distinguished from multi-level government which is when different levels of government share or transfer responsibility amongst each other. Whereas multi-level governance analyses the relationship of different state levels and interaction with different types of actors.'

Electronic participation (e-participation) is ICT-supported participation in processes involving government and citizens. Processes may concern administration, service delivery, decision making and policy making. E-participation is hence closely related to e-government and e-governance participation. The need for the term has emerged as citizen interests and interaction with political service providers have increasingly become digitized due to the rise of e-government.

Public participation, also known as citizen participation or patient and public involvement, is the inclusion of the public in the activities of any organization or project. Public participation is similar to but more inclusive than stakeholder engagement.

Public engagement or public participation is a term that has recently been used to describe "the practice of involving members of the public in the agenda-setting, decision-making, and policy-forming activities of organizations/institutions responsible for policy development." It is focused on the participatory actions of the public to aid in policy making based in their values.

Policy studies is a subdisicipline of political science that includes the analysis of the process of policymaking and the contents of policy. Policy analysis includes substantive area research, program evaluation and impact studies, and policy design. It "involves systematically studying the nature, causes, and effects of alternative public policies, with particular emphasis on determining the policies that will achieve given goals." It emerged in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s.

The governmental learning spiral© is a method to structure face-to-face or virtual innovation and learning events such as workshops, conferences, roundtables, trainings, e-learning, etc. to solve complex political problem situations and governance challenges. The governmental learning spiral is based on a heuristic and multidisciplinary approach that was theoretically and conceptually developed over the last two decades and successfully applied worldwide in numerous local, national as well as international events to improve performance in democratic governance. The method has been described for the first time by Raoul Blindenbacher and Ronald Lampman Watts in the book "Federalism in a Changing World", a publication edited by Raoul Blindenbacher and former Swiss President Arnold Koller in 2003. The governmental learning spiral was further developed in the World Bank publication "The Black Box of Governmental Learning" in 2010.

The term ‘hybrid institution’ is not yet well-established or clearly defined in academic literature. German and Keller possibly introduced the term in 2009, describing it as "an institutional arrangement governing the interdependencies among discrete property holders and regimes". Abbot and Faude have suggested more recently that most areas in world politics today are governed "neither by individual institutions nor by regime complexes composed of formal interstate institutions. Rather, they are governed by “hybrid institutional complexes” comprising heterogeneous interstate, infra-state, public–private and private transnational institutions, formal and informal." Whether they are anything more than euphemisms for public-private partnerships, which are nothing new, is yet to be firmly established.

Ocean governance is the conduct of the policy, actions and affairs regarding the world's oceans. Within governance, it incorporates the influence of non-state actors, i.e. stakeholders, NGOs and so forth, therefore the state is not the only acting power in policy making. However, ocean governance is complex because much of the ocean is a commons that is not ‘owned’ by any single person or nation/state. There is a belief more strongly in the US than other countries that the “invisible hand” is the best method to determine ocean governance factors. These include factors such as what resources we consume, what price we should pay for them, and how we should use them. The underlying reasoning behind this is the market has to have the desire in order to promote environmental protection, however this is rarely the case. This term is referred to as a market failure. Market failures and government failures are the leading causes of ocean governance complications. As a result, humankind has tended to overexploit marine resources, by treating them as shared resources while not taking equal and collective responsibilities in caring for them.

Bureaucratic drift in American political science is a theory that seeks to explain the tendency for bureaucratic agencies to create policy that deviates from the original mandate. The difference between a bureaucracy's enactment of a law and the legislature's intent is called bureaucratic drift. Legislation is produced by elected officials, but is implemented by unelected bureaucrats, who sometimes act under their own preferences or interests. Bureaucratic drift is often treated as a principal–agent problem, with the House, Senate and Presidency acting as principals and bureaucracy acting as the agent. The government seeks to control bureaucratic drift in a number of ways, most notably congressional oversight and procedural controls.


Further reading