12. Fundamental decisions vs disjointed
incrementalism ('muddling through')
Lindquist has argued that organisations or policy networks
are often in different decision modes routine, incremental,
fundamental or emergent.
Fundamental or emergent decisions are usually made when a
policy window comes up and new decisions are called for. They
may bring about significant changes. Most of the time, however,
decisions are routine or incremental. Routine decision-making
merely repeats previous decisions. Incremental decision-making
deals with selective issues as they arise. These issues may
require slightly new thinking, but they are not significant
enough to trigger a policy window or fundamental decisions.
Thus they are dealt with ad hoc and in a disjointed manner,
using whatever analysis is close at hand, without any comprehensive
review of all the associated issues. Policy processes that
operate through disjointed incrementalism pose both challenges
and opportunities for researchers. On the one hand, policy
makers in this decision-making mode are looking for analyses
that can provide quick support to decisions that are already
half-made, and they may be less inclined to consider evidence
that would be time-consuming to understand and adapt. On the
other hand, the ad hoc nature of decision-making also implies
that any new evidence which fits in and is helpful on a case-by-case
basis, and which is presented at just the right moment, has
a good chance of being picked up and used almost immediately.
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