Public Policy

Public Policy is a "set of interrelated decisions taken by a political actor or group of actors concerning the selection of goals and the means of achieving them within a specified situation where those decisions should, in principle, be within the power of those actors” (Jenkins, 1978). Public policy can be considered as: (i) a process; (ii) series of decisions; (iii) limited by internal and external constraints of government’s capacity to implement the decisions; (iv)as goal-oriented behaviour.

A public policy is "a document drawn up by governmental actors to present both their vision of an issue calling for public action and, to some extent, the legal, technical, practical and operational aspects of this action" (Turgeon, 2011). Public policy refer to "the process through which elected representatives decide on a public action designed to deal with an issue considered by certain actors, whether governmental or non-governmental, to require some kind of intervention".

Public policies in modern political systems are designed to accomplish specified goals or produce definite results, although these are not always achieved (Anderson, 2003). Public policies emerge in response to policy demands, or those claims for action or inaction on some public issue made by other actors—private citizens, group representatives, or legislators and other public officials—upon government officials and agencies.

Related terms: Policy, Policy Analysis, Policy Governance, Policy Informatics, Policy Model, Policy Modelling.


Jenkins, William (1978). Policy Analysis: A Political and Organizational Perspective. London: Martin Robertson

Turgeon, J. and J.-F. Savard (2012).“Public Policy,”in L. Côté and J.-F. Savard (eds.), Encyclopedic Dictionary of Public Administration, [online],

Anderson, J. E. (2003). Public policymaking: An introduction. Boston: Houghton

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