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A systems tool for structuring public policy problems and design of policy options
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Computer and Systems Sciences.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Computer and Systems Sciences.
2017 (English)In: International Journal of Electronic Governance, ISSN 1742-7509, E-ISSN 1742-7517, Vol. 9, no 1/2Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Systems analysis allows quantitative empirical testing of models that exist in the study of public policy. Simulation and visualisation techniques can help policy makers to reduce uncertainties on the possible impacts of policies. This paper presents a new tool for systems modelling and simulation of policy problems to support the problem analysis, the design of policy options and impact assessment activities. The tool facilitates the cognitive activity of representing complex mental models using system dynamics simulation modelling by defining standards and a procedure for policy modelling. We propose a new policy-oriented problem structuring method (PSM), the ‘labelled causal mapping’. The method supports scenario-based dynamic simulation and provides graphical representations of the involved actors, key variables, control flows and causal dependencies in a policy decision situation. A web-based tool prototype has been implemented in a Node.js environment. Two real policy problems are presented for demonstration of the use of the prototype.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 9, no 1/2
Keywords [en]
public policy analysis, policy options, impact assessment, systems thinking, exploratory modelling, gaming simulation, scenario planning, problem structuring, causal mapping, visualization, European Union
National Category
Computer Sciences
Research subject
Computer and Systems Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-144895DOI: 10.1504/IJEG.2017.10005473OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-144895DiVA, id: diva2:1117542
Available from: 2017-06-29 Created: 2017-06-29 Last updated: 2018-08-29Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Design and Investigation of a Decision Support System for Public Policy Formulation
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Design and Investigation of a Decision Support System for Public Policy Formulation
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The ultimate aim of support for public policy decision making is to develop ways of facilitating policymaking that can create policies that are consistent with the preferences of policymakers and stakeholders (such as an increase in economic growth, the reduction of social inequalities, and improvements to the environment), and that are at the same time based on the available knowledge and evidential information.

Using the design science research methodology, an iterative design process was followed to build and evaluate a research artefact in the form of an analytical method that is also operationalised as a decision support system (DSS) – in order to facilitate the problem analysis, the impact assessment and the decision evaluation activities carried out at the policy formulation stage of the policymaking process. The DSS provides a web-based, user-friendly interface for two main software modules: (i) a tool for modelling and simulation of policy scenarios; and (ii) a tool for multi-criteria evaluation of policy decisions. The target end-users of the DSS tools are policymakers, the support staff of politicians, policy analysts and researchers within governmental departments and parliaments at the various institutional levels of the European Union.

The proposed model-based decision support approach integrates systems thinking, problem structuring methods and multi-criteria decision analysis, in what can be described as a ‘sense-making’ approach. A new policy-oriented quantitative problem structuring method is introduced in this research, the ‘labelled causal mapping’ method, which aims to reduce the cognitive overload involved in representing complex mental models using system dynamics simulation modelling in order to facilitate knowledge representation and system analysis. One contribution of this work is an object-oriented implementation of a prototype tool for systems modelling and simulation of policy decision situations based on the labelled causal mapping method. The method provides a basis for further computational decision analysis. We proposed criteria models and data formats for common (generic) policy appraisal, and a preference elicitation method for in-depth decision evaluation based on the results of scenario simulation and the preferences of decision makers and stakeholder groups.

The artefact evaluation clarifies how well the proposed approach and the DSS tool prototype support a solution to the problem and the extent to which the outcomes in two policy analysis use cases are useful in terms of output analysis and knowledge synthesis.

The contributions of this research to theory and practice were articulated based on the design knowledge obtained through an iterative design process, notably the emergence of the concepts of transparency and intelligibility in policymodelling, (i.e., the need for explicit and interpretable models that can provide justification of a specific decision).

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Computer and Systems Sciences, Stockholm University, 2018. p. 258
Series
Report Series / Department of Computer & Systems Sciences, ISSN 1101-8526 ; 18-010
Keywords
Systems Thinking, Prescriptive Policy Analysis, Policy modelling and Simulation, ICT for governane, Sense4us, Policy Impact Assessment, Scenario Planning, Knowledge synthesis
National Category
Computer Sciences Public Administration Studies
Research subject
Computer and Systems Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-159437 (URN)978-91-7797-426-0 (ISBN)978-91-7797-427-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2018-10-12, Lilla hörsalen, NOD-huset, Borgarfjordsgatan 12, Kista, Sweden, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 8: Submitted.

Available from: 2018-09-19 Created: 2018-08-29 Last updated: 2018-09-19Bibliographically approved

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