{br} STUCK with your assignment? {br} When is it due? {br} Get FREE assistance. Page Title: {title}{br} Page URL: {url}
UK: +44 748 007-0908, USA: +1 917 810-5386 [email protected]
  1. Differences between the rational and nonrational approaches in relation to public policy.


    Discuss the differences between the rational and nonrational approaches in relation to public policy. Be sure to also discuss how each complements the other. You must include relevant theory for both approaches within your answer. (Dr. Lester)    


Subject Law and governance Pages 6 Style APA


The Differences between Rational and Non-Rational Approaches to Public Policies

The question that this paper aims at answering is: “Discuss the differences between the rational and non-rational approaches in relation to public policy. Be sure to also discuss how each complements the other” which was taught by Dr. Lester. Presently, public policies, according to Mahardhika et al. (2017), represent the most sufficient instruments of action in view to realize public interest. In the past decades, it has been realized that public policy area is undergoing several opportunities and threats determined by global contexts that are increasingly being impacted by globalization and national contexts which need to achieve the requirements of warranting a good life quality. The modern global challenges, the political and economic transformations, have necessitated the creation of stable frameworks for developing, evaluating, and implementing public policies both at national and global levels (Clemons & McBeth, 2020). In the process of developing the policies, various policy making models/approaches are employed, among which are rational and non-rational approaches.

Zahariadis (2016) reasons that when making decisions, human beings often depend upon the heuristic models, as opposed to taking into consideration all facts available. Jones (2017) adds that the tendency holds for when people are making decisions at group level. Nonetheless, there are certain other mechanisms that can only be noted in a group level: conformity and influence (Clemons & McBeth, 2020). An understanding of these mechanisms along with their process trends/patterns is essential to manipulate and interfere with a group’s decision making to make the group’s decision good. To realize this, approaches or models to decision making are vital and play an essential role.

The rational approach to public policy making refers to a multi-step procedure for making decisions between options or alternatives (Kimbell & Bailey, 2017). The rational decision making approach favours objectivity, logic, and assessment above insight and subjectivity (Walters & Morgan, 2019).  The approach follows a formal and procedural path of activities. According to Shah and Amjad (2016), the rational approach to decision making is premised on the assumption that people often make decisions that reduce costs and optimize benefits. Citing an example of economic theory, Clemons and McBeth (2020) explain that most people desire getting the most useful services and products at the lowest possible cost, and as a result of this, they will judge projects’ benefits in comparison with other objects. They will then juxtapose costs. Generally, according to the economic theory, people will choose an object over the other based on the reward and cost of the alternatives.

Drawing from the economic theory, the rational approach to public policy is premised on the fact that people have a perfect and full information upon which to ground their choices when making decisions about policies they want and that there exist measurable criteria for which information can be analyzed and gathered (Kimbell & Bailey, 2017). Mahardhika et al. (2017) add that the model presumes that people have the cognitive capability, resources, and time to assess each and every option available, especially with regard to public policies. Zahariadis (2016) asserts that the rational model of decision making does not take into consideration factors that unquantifiable, like ethical considerations or the worth of altruism, thus leaving out considerations of people’s individual loyalties, feelings, or sense of responsibility.

The rational model to public policy has been criticized for making over-simplified and unrealistic suppositions (Jones, 2017). Walters and Morgan (2019) explain that people hardly have a perfect or full information regarding policies and decisions that are good for the general public since some people may be unable for accessing the vital information, or it may take too long or require several resources to acquire the necessary information. Similarly, personal rationality is restricted by their capability to carry out analysis and think across competing options available (Clemons & McBeth, 2020). Clemons and McBeth (2020) posit that as opposed to always seeking to maximize benefits while reducing costs, people are usually willing to choose acceptable options rather than the optimum options.

Conversely, the non-rational model to policy making is a model grounded on the fact that people usually use non-rational, alternative techniques in the process of making decisions. As aforementioned, the rational approach to public policies has various limitations: limited people’s rationality by the amount of information they have at any one time, people’s minds’ cognitive shortcomings and the finite quantity of time that people have to make decisions (Clemons & McBeth, 2020). Non-rational model to public policies account for the limitations by providing alternative models to decision making. Herbert A. Simon, an American economics and psychology researcher, provided two cognitive styles: satisficers and maximizers. According to Simon, maximizers attempt to make optimal decisions, while satisficers try finding solutions that are “good enough” (Shah & Amjad, 2016). According to Walters and Morgan (2019), maximizers have the tendency of taking longer to make decisions owing to the need of maximizing performance across all variables and making trade-offs keenly, while satisficers acknowledge that decision makers do not have the resources and capability to arrive at optimal solutions but instead apply their individual rationality only after simplifying the options/alternatives/choices available at their disposal. Evidently, the satisficers, non-rationalists, employ the rational approach to public decisions since the satisficers seek satisfactory solutions as opposed to optimal ones.

Further, Gerd Gigerenzer, a German psychologist, contends that simple heuristics, and experience-grounded approach to solving problems, can result in better decision outcomes compared to more exhaustive, hypothetically optimal processes that take into consideration vast quantities of data/information (Clemons & McBeth, 2020). Where a thorough search is impractical, heuristic approaches are employed to expeditiously find satisfactory solutions.  Non-rationalists also argue that emotions (which are ignored by rationalists) have a role in public policy making, arguing that individual risk tolerance is important in decision making since decisions often involve uncertainty (Clemons & McBeth, 2020). The non-rationalists coined the robust decision making (RDM) technique, which is specific set of tools and methods designed to support policy analysis and decision making under conditions of deep uncertainty (Clemons & McBeth, 2020). See the appendix for a summary of the differences between rational and non-rational approaches to public policies.

From the foregoing, it is evident that rational and non-rational models complement in various ways. Foremost, one covers for the weaknesses of the other. While rational approach is based upon complete information regarding the environment and knowledge about various options, non-rational approach is based upon incomplete information about the ecological factors and limited data about results of various alternatives. When used together during public policy development, the use of incomplete information can be complemented by the use of complete information about situations and this can bolster the quality of decision that is eventually made (Clemons & McBeth, 2020). Additionally, both believe that leaders have some inherent abilities to make decisions, optimum for rational approach and realistic for non-rational approach.

To sum it up, public policy involves decision making. Decision making entails choices/options/alternatives. The application of one’s personality is, thus, instrumental to the making of right choices. However, the decision making approach employed in choosing between or among alternatives significantly influence the quality of decisions made. From the above discussion, there are differences between rational and non-rational approaches to public policies. This paper has also noted that whereas the two are different, both complement each other.


Clemons, R. S., & McBeth, M. K. (2020). Public Policy Praxis: A Case Approach for Understanding Policy and Analysis (4th Ed.), Routledge. ISBN 9780367180348

Jones, B. (2017). Behavioral rationality as a foundation for public policy studies. Cognitive Systems Research, 43, 63-75. DOI:10.1016/j.cogsys.2017.01.003

Kimbell, L., & Bailey, J. (2017). Prototyping and the new spirit of policy-making. CoDesign, 13, 214 – 226. DOI:10.1080/15710882.2017.1355003

Mahardhika, D., Valls, A. A., Kanno T., & Furuta, K. (2017). Rational and Non-rational Influence in a Time-Constrained Group Decision Making. In: A













Appendix A:

Communication Plan for an Inpatient Unit to Evaluate the Impact of Transformational Leadership Style Compared to Other Leader Styles such as Bureaucratic and Laissez-Faire Leadership in Nurse Engagement, Retention, and Team Member Satisfaction Over the Course of One Year

Related Samples

WeCreativez WhatsApp Support
Our customer support team is here to answer your questions. Ask us anything!
👋 Hi, how can I help?