The focus question that I decided to respond to is

The focus question that I decided to respond to is, “How can they select the best instrument for achieving a policy goal?” I am a very visual learner, so right away, my eye caught Table 9.1 titled, “McDonnell and Elmore’s Policy Instruments” on pg. 224 of the Fowler text. The five main policy instruments that I will go into more detail about are: “Mandates, Inducements, Capacity Building, System Change, and Hortatory Policy.”
A mandate is a “rule governing the actions of individuals and agencies.” It usually consists of two components: (1) language that spells out required behavior for all people in a specified social group, and (2) a prescribed penalty for those who fail to comply. These components may take the form of a statute, an administrative rule, a court decision, a school board policy, or a school or classroom rule. A good example of a mandate is an obligatory school attendance law. A mandate functions best when one wants to encourage all members of a group to behave in the same way, and when the mandate can be enforced. Mandates also require strong political support.
An inducement is a “transfer of money (or in-kind grants) to individuals or agencies in return for the production of goods or services.” Inducements consist of two components: (1) the money, services, or in-kind materials to be transferred; and (2) guidelines that spell out how they are to be used. These guidelines may be broad, as with block grants, or detailed, as with categorical grants. The most appropriate contexts in which to use inducements are those in which diverse behavior is desirable or at least acceptable. Second, inducements work best when large numbers of potential implementers are willing to implement the policy but currently lack the resources to do so. Finally, because adopting inducements does not require strong political support, they are the ideal policy instrument for situations in which it may be difficult to pass a mandate, a system change, or a capacity building program. As stated in the text, “Title I represents an appropriate use of inducements. Its main purpose was to provide educational support for poor children; however, because many schools and districts have few poor children, diverse behavior around remedial education for the underprivileged was acceptable (Fowler, pg. 226).”
Capacity Building can be defined as “the transfer of money for the purpose of investment in material, intellectual, or human resources.” The word investment indicates the major difference between inducements and capacity building. The latter policy instrument is designed to bring about a major, permanent change in the functional ability of an individual or an organization. Therefore, it represents a long-term investment whose full impact will not be apparent for years. A major component of capacity building is “a large sum of money that is transferred to the implementing agency as a grant, or as an appropriation of earmarked funds; a second major component is guidelines for how the money is to be spent (Fowler, pg. 227).” The ideal result of capacity building is people and institutions capable of implementing desirable new programs and policies. However, capacity building has a major drawback. Precisely because it is expensive, and yields results only in the long term, its political and therefore its financial support, may evaporate before enough capacity has been built.
System change is a policy instrument that “transfers . . . official authority among individuals and agencies (Fowler, pg. 227).” Its central component is a statute, administrative rule, or board policy that weakens or eliminates the authority of an official or agency over a specific decision-making area, while simultaneously shifting that authority to different individuals or agencies. System change is an appropriate policy instrument when new behavior is needed, but the currently employed staff and existing institutions are unresponsive to demands for change. The ideal result of a system change is a revolutionized institution able and willing to meet the new demands placed on it. The major drawback is its unpredictability.
Hortatory, or persuasive, policies “send a signal that particular goals and actions are considered a high priority by government (Fowler, pg. 228).” The major components of hortatory policies are written, spoken, or graphic texts that communicate information and suggest that people should behave in a certain way. Common examples in schools include campaigns to encourage children to recycle trash, and “Just say no” drug education programs. Hortatory policies are appropriate when the desired change can be linked readily with symbols and information, and when people are likely to act on new information. They are especially suitable as the first step in a long sequence of policies designed to change behavior gradually. Often, when political support is weak, a hortatory policy is the only one with a chance of being adopted. The major drawback of hortatory policies is the ease with which persuasion can slip into propaganda and other forms of manipulation.