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Additional resources for Rational Techniques in Policy Analysis. Policy Studies Institute
Thus, 'if the government calls upon an economist to undertake a cost-benefit study, it presum ably expects him to apply economic principles and only economic principles' (Mishan, 1974, p. 91). Mishan concludes his argument by stressing that a cost-benefit analysis, based wholly on rational criterion, is just one useful technique in the service of social decision and not by itself socially decisive or a substitute for policy. Others take a wider view, for example, Williams (1972) who argues that rational analysts may well have to accept political restrictions and constraints on alternatives under consideration if the analysis is to be politically practicable.
Lastly, it is worth remembering that activities of policy making are equally activities on the other sub systems or models, for example, policy science in the world of academia, or decision making in a model of party political activity. Each policy problem, therefore, exists in a complex social reality of which the rational aspects represent only one element in a larger system. These rational aspects gain relevance if they are integrated with the other elements of the policy problem. The better the in- Exploring Policy Analysis 2j tegration the closer towards (but never attaining) social reality the policy analysis model moves, and its value to decision makers rises accordingly.
Terms like plan evaluation and others which mean in effect ex ante analysis can conveniently be termed appraisals in line with the current ex ante use of the term project appraisal. Unlike Pederson, however, there is no point in suggesting that evaluation is not policy analysis. 's (1977) typology of policy analysis which distinguishes policy advocacy and information for policy, which are ex ante analyses, from policy monitoring and evaluation which they identify clearly as ex post analysis. For many techniques it is difficult to maintain a clear time dimen sion distinction, nor is it always necessary.