Policy is an intentional structured system of rules to guide activities and attain reasonable results. A policy is an overarching statement of purpose, which is formally implemented as a written process or formal protocol, or as a series of implied rules that are implied by the structure of the organization. A policy may be formally adopted by a governing body within an organization, or may be an informal approach taken by individuals within the organization. Regardless of how it became a part of the organization, it now needs to be routinely maintained. In the case of an organization, a policy becomes part of the company’s books and records, while in the case of an individual, a policy becomes part of the person’s life.
Developing the right policy management strategy is critical to realizing the full benefits of those policies. The first step towards developing the right policy management strategy is understanding what kinds of policies are already in place. While there is much that is good in the present system of policies, there are also many policies that need to be replaced or adapted for new objectives and circumstances.
One way to replace or add policies that need to be replaced or adapted is through systematic revision. Revising aims to achieve two main goals. The first goal is to identify policy outcomes that are currently being satisfied by the current system, but that may be improved by further modification of the system. The second goal is to identify those unintended consequences of existing policies that have not been considered in advance, or that have not been identified, but are relevant to meeting the organization’s objectives. In this manner, the objective of developing the new policy can be aligned with the organizational plans.
Policy review also seeks to identify policy instruments that have been tried and tested, or that are economically viable. This subset of research typically studies complex organizations such as international health care policies, complex legal systems, or other governing instruments used by government agencies. The intent of this subset is to conduct policy research that has a reasonable chance of success. The success of a project depends on its ability to generate a reasonable number of policy outcomes that satisfy an organizations broad range of objectives. In addition to attempting to identify desired policy outcomes, this subset of researchers also seeks to test the effects of public policy on the environment, society, and people.
Policy research in the realm of environmental policy is especially useful, as there are likely to be multiple state level regulatory bodies involved. Different agencies and states have different plans to address pollution. It is difficult to assess the impacts of state-level environmental policy without carefully analyzing these plans across an assortment of states. This subset of researchers usually focuses on studying the impact of environmental policies at the state level as the conditions of implementation vary from one state to another.
Finally, in regards to the broader scope of the human endeavor, Policy research is important in determining the appropriate mix of policies that will serve the needs of the organization. This is especially true when dealing with long term organizations such as hospitals and universities. Policy research is most effective when performed by an independent board or panel such as the ERISA board or the USPSTCA. This ensures the selection of the right policy management processes, procedures and tools that best suit the organization’s needs.