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Policy content change is one of the types of policy change, but not the only one

There is an interesting exchange mid-way through David Letterman’s interview to President Barack Obama on Netflix.  Letterman asks President Obama about his reflection on policymaking and the role and power that the president actually has.  Obama answer is quite illuminating in terms of the nature of policy change. Yes, he says, a lot of his time was dedicated to debate and discuss legislation but more than anything else, he saw his role as trying to influence attitudes, perceptions, and values around policy problems and, importantly, policy solutions.  These changes of behaviours are in most cases the key determinants of change in the policy content.

We, who work on evidence-informed policymaking, sometimes focus our strategies and results too much on changes in policy content and forget that other type of changes (ie, attitude, perceptions, etc.) as as important to develop technically sound and politically feasible solutions to policy problems.

A very entertaining and refreshing interview. Worth watching.



    • Hi Julien, thank you for sending the link. Interesting distinction between academic worlds, decision community, and the third community.


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