ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

›› 2007, Vol. 39 ›› Issue (06): 1093-1101.

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Impact of Public Policy-making Procedures on the Acceptability of A Public Policy

Li Dazhi Wang Erping   

  1. Institute of Psychology. Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
  • Received:2007-05-02 Revised:1900-01-01 Published:2007-11-30 Online:2007-11-30
  • Contact: Wang Erping

Abstract: This research addresses the problems of public policy-making procedures. In conducting our research, we considered public policy as the allocation or reallocation of interests or resources among different members of the public. Due to limited resources, administrations should trade off all interests among different segments of society when formulating a policy. Unfortunately, in recent years there have been several mass conflicts with administration of public policy. This infers that some people’s interests were ignored or harmed by certain policies. According to the theory of procedural justice, people may accept the unexpected result if they consider the procedure is just. This research hypothesizes that there are certain problems in current policy-making procedures and that improving these procedures may make policies more acceptable.
A pilot study was conducted by interviewing ten scholars from a range of disciplines. The interview record transcripts were coded by three analysts. The results indicate that: 1) Most of the scholars criticized current public policies as lacking sensitivity to public issues; 2) Most of them considered that current public policies do not resolve problems effectively; and 3) They all considered that psychology research may enhance awareness of public issues and improve the effectiveness of policy.
In study 2, the procedure of public policy was tracked and compared with a social survey. The Beijing government would like to increase the taxi fare rate to cope with the rising price of petroleum. Although the majority of delegates in a hearing of witnesses supported the policy consideration, the social survey of 189 residents and 62 taxi divers indicated that both of them oppose the consideration. The findings indicate that the hearing of witnesses was not able to delegate the opinions of the public, resulting in the policy failing to resolve the problem.
Study 3 was a nonequivalent control group quasi-experiment. Visitors of two Internet Website were chosen as subjects for original photo games. For the experiment group, visitors were invited to express their desires and suggestions on the game rules for one week, and then declare rules referencing the suggestions before starting the game. Meanwhile, the control group simply declared the rules at the beginning of the game. Compared with the two games during four weeks, the experiment group submitted more photos than the control group.
The results of this research imply that, the good will of policy makers is not enough to make a policy effective. Surveys on public attitudes at the beginning of the policy-making process can allow policy makers to better determine public issues, assess the tradeoff of public interests, help ensure policies are more acceptable, and help foster a harmonious society. The authors of this research suggest that psychology research should take more social level problems into account in the policy-making process

Key words: public policies, policy-making procedures, acceptability

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