Policy maker influences

Goals

To understand what motivates policy makers such as legislators, congress members and so on, to support bills and programs, and to have information on how to successfully target or reach such people.

Early Findings

Communication Best Practices

  • When communicating with and appealing to policy makers, it is important to understand that the language used by those doing the communicating (scientists, social workers, etc) tends to be quite different to the language that policy makers use. Scientists, for example, think in terms of evidence, while policy makers may be focused on findings.
  • To understand what policy makers are focused on, it is essential to understand their policy making process. That is, the steps involved from conception through to achieving concensus and winning over the public.
  • The policy making steps or stages are, from inception to conclusion: agenda building, formulation, adoption, implementation, evaluation, and termination.
  • One research report suggests a three-pronged approach to communicating with policy makers. It recommends not bombarding policy makers with evidence, but instead synthesizing and framing the evidence. Secondly, timing is key - finding the right time to act. Third, this report also emphasises the importance of seeing policy making from the makers' perspectives.
  • It is important that those seeking to influence policy makers build up their own legitimacy, which then aids in building trust with those policy makers.

The Drivers or Motivators of Policy Making Decisions

  • Broadly speaking, policy decision makers are influenced by information perception (eg misinformation and distortion in the media), emotion (theirs, and the emotions of their public), values and identities, framing and narrative (rather than just facts, but how those facts are packaged), evidence, and trust and openness.
  • One theory about how policy makers are influenced is the hierarchy of needs - where the most basic needs like food and shelter are at the top (and are the ones policy makers are more concerned with), while other needs like self esteem, respect, and attention are at the bottom.
  • It is also important to consider that policy makers have subjective and differing preferences and needs, that should be taken into account when targetting them.
  • Another theory, called the motivation theory or the two factors theory, is about the relationships between satisfaction, motivation, and possibility of success. Policy makers are concerned about satisfaction and success, and these elements are conditioned by "hygiene" factors such as the type of administration and how outcomes are evaluated. The policy maker decision making process is impacted by the ability to achieve goals (ie how realistic the proposal is) and the consequences of doing so.

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