Difference Between Policy Making and Decision Making

Policy Making vs Decision Making
 

Between Policy Making and Decision Making there is subtle difference which many of us fail to apprehend. This is because, aside from hearing the terms Policy Making and Decision Making via news or other sources, we are not familiar neither are we properly acquainted with the meaning of each term. Prima facie, we are somewhat aware that these terms represent important responsibilities or powers in the field of governance. Simply put, they are powers that are most often associated with the executive in a state or the top management of an organization. When it comes to the state, this includes the President and/or Prime Minister and the cabinet of ministers. Keep in mind that the Parliament too plays an important role in relation to these terms. Let’s examine both terms closely.

What is Policy Making?

Before proceeding to understand the meaning of Policy Making, let’s first establish the meaning of the word ‘policy‘. The term ‘policy’ has been defined as a course or principle of action adopted and/or proposed by the government or executive of a state or by the management of any organization. Simply put, it refers to a proposed plan or strategy in relation to the state or an organization. This simplifies the term Policy Making. Based on the definition of policy, we can understand the term Policy Making to mean the making or creation of such a policy or policies. Traditionally, it is defined as the formulation of ideas or plans that are used by the government or an organization. It also refers to the act or process of planning or directing a particular course of action to be taken by the government or an organization.

Policy Making by the government is at a high level and also entails the act or process of creating laws or regulations. An example of this is when the executive, typically the president and his/her cabinet, draft a bill pertaining to the prohibition of certain criminal activities or smoking. The goal behind Policy Making is to ensure the improvement in the quality of life of citizens, address economic and/or social challenges or problems, regulate industries and businesses and ensure the development of the state. Policy making is a power that is vested in the executive branch of the country.

Difference Between Policy Making and Decision Making

A bill to prohibit smoking is a result of policy making

What is Decision Making?

In simple terms, Decision Making refers to the act or process of making decisions or reaching a decision. It also constitutes a determination reached after much consideration. Traditionally, however, it is defined as the thought process (cognitive process) of selecting a logical choice or course of action from a set of alternatives. A Decision results in an outcome. This outcome might be either to do or not do something. Decision Making is a process that involves several steps. These steps are as follows. Establishing objectives, developing certain selection criteria (for example costs and benefits, strengths and weaknesses), weighing the pros and cons of each alternative and evaluating the same against the selection criteria, examining the possible outcome of each alternative and thereafter selecting a suitable alternative.

Effective Decision Making results when the selected alternative is ideally suited to the situation or problem at hand. In the context of governance, Decision Making represents an important aspect of a government’s responsibilities. It is the process through which the government selects or chooses the most logical and suitable course of action about a particular situation. The Decision Making process outlined before is similar to the process carried out by the government. Decision Making in the government typically involves the participation of the President and/or Prime Minister and the cabinet of ministers. Further, the Parliament too has a role to play in the Decision Making process. For example, a government bill can only be passed and enacted by a majority vote of the legislature.

 Policy Making vs Decision Making

The Parliament too plays a part in decision making

What is the difference between Policy Making and Decision Making?

• Policy Making refers to the making or formulation of a particular plan or course of action by the government or an organization.

• Decision Making refers to the act or process of selecting a particular plan or course of action from a set of alternatives. Thus, for example, the government can select a suitable plan or course of action from the set of plans, courses of action or strategies already formulated.

 

Images Courtesy:

  1. No smoking via Wikicommons (Public Domain)
  2. Session Hall of Parliament of Finland by Hteink.min (CC BY-SA 3.0)