Uncovering the Unknown of Government Policy Decision-making Process at Senior Levels

By Gulrose Jiwani.

Published by The International Journal of Science in Society

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

Understanding the complexity of government policy decision making is crucial to influencing policies that create equity in access to health and social resources and reduce health disparities within populations. The literature and practice knowledge provides some understanding of decision-making styles of senior executives, and of a multitude of variables affecting policy decisions. However, there is little systematic documentation about the actual policy decision-making process senior decision makers engage in when recommending policy options to elected officials. This descriptive multiple-case study is the first attempt at gaining a more systematic understanding of the phenomenon of policy decision making at senior levels of a Canadian provincial government and an important step in filling the existing conceptual and empirical gap. The study was conducted post the global economic downturn of Fall 2008, when government leaders within public service were challenged to mitigate the effects of the economic downturn, while still meeting government goals and objectives. Holistic and cross-case analysis was conducted. The study provides an understanding of decision-making contexts influencing senior decision makers. Major influences included: the democratic structure; will and preferences of elected officials (political decision makers); economic context; and governance. Minor influences included stakeholders and scientific evidence. The decision makers’ experience in public service, and the use of flexible and integrative decision-making styles, was important. Thinking and ethical processes were intricately connected in guiding the decision-making process, with twelve themes emerging. The decision makers’ thinking processes included: vision, political astuteness, being tactical, being strategic, due diligence, and risk management; and the ethical processes included: respect for diverse opinions, integrity and trust, democracy, impact of policies, passion for public service, and intuition about doing the right thing. Strong face validity and trustworthiness of the data was achieved to inform future research. This paper will focus on sharing findings of the research and provide implications for practice, policy makers, education and research.

Keywords: Government Policy Decision-making Process

The International Journal of Science in Society, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp.309-322. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 765.305KB).

Dr. Gulrose Jiwani

President, HPSC Health Policy and Strategies Consultants Inc., Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Gulrose Jiwani is President and CEO of HPSC Health Policy & Strategies Consultants Inc. and its new Division Global Health Policy & Strategies. She is an executive leader, academic and researcher with 26 years experience in health policy, nursing practice and education. She is experienced in strategic planning, policy development, system redesign, and implementing innovative approaches in education and health services. Gulrose has held key strategic leadership and management positions in government and in health care settings in Canada. She builds partnerships between academic/health care institutions and government to study relevant questions and generate innovative, sustainable solutions. She is a strategic thinker and brings a strong commitment to addressing the economic, social and health needs of populations. Her professional career has been dedicated to creating positive health and social outcomes for marginalized populations. Gulrose earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing Science at the University of Washington. She is a recipient of several awards including Top Scholar Award for Excellence and Innovation, the Vigfusson Graduate Fellowship and was named a Magnuson Scholar from the prestigious Warren G. Magnuson Institute for Biomedical Research and Health Professions Training, University of Washington. Gulrose has served as a Canadian Development Exchange Program (CADEX) Consultant with Aga Khan Foundation Canada that responds to requests for Canadian specialists to build critical capacity with partners from Africa and Asia.