domingo, 8 de marzo de 2009

Public Policy: from top or from bottom?

A deeper understanding of top-down and bottom-up paradigms as an analytical and/or synthetic tool in human sciences (History, Public Policy, Development Economics, etc.) could be enriched by the view of such paradigms in nano-science and nanotechnology. Nanotechnology proves, for example, that bottom-up approaches are valid for nano-engineering. This lesson may be extrapolated to public policy where there exists the misbelief that bottom-up paradigms has a purely analytical domain of validity (like historical studies), and therefore leading to a dead-end in Public Policy Theory [1]. In the nanotech industry, it is often found that labs pursuing the development of a functionally specified device are betting simultaneously to both, bottom-up and top-down approaches. Many times one of them offers overwhelming benefits in comparison with the other. It may also be the case that both methods attain the main functional goal, but they differ in collateral properties, which eventually will determine their subsequent industrial development (reliability, price, precision, etc.). Public policy may seem far from this picture, but our comparison proves that there is plenty of room for different public policy strategies. What it has to be further adjusted in the latter field is a way of reliable evaluation of functional goals. Nevertheless the last fifty years has seen considerable progress in this field denominated Evaluation Research [2].

[1] see the criticism of the nobel prize economist Amartya Sen,
The Man Without a Plan in response to William Easterly's book The White's Man Burden.

[2] see a brief survey of methodologies by the Web Center for Social Research Methods.

Publicar un comentario