Policies exist in a range of contexts, from the national and international levels to local governments and sport clubs. They are typically adopted by governing bodies, such as organisational boards or governments, and contribute to decision making by providing a deliberate system of principles within which the organisation agrees to operate.
Usually, the governing body triggers development of policy, either directly or indirectly, through announcing strategic intent, which is enacted by policymakers to help that governing body understand how to navigate and achieve the identified strategy.
How is policy made?
While the exact process varies between countries and contexts, the basic process for policymaking follows a similar pattern:
- Recognition: The first stage involves calling attention to the need to address or prevent a public issue, often through legislation or other actions. Government officials and advocates work to ensure the issue becomes part of the national agenda.
- Consultation: Consideration of the wider context, particularly with those whom the policy will impact or relate to. Consultation enables more information to be collected, which will form the basis of policy formulation.
- Formulation and adoption: Once a solution to the problem is proposed, policymakers formulate a draft of the policy. This process is different in every country, but generally members of government work together with other stakeholders to agree upon legislation and/or plans that will be put in place.
- Implementation: Depending on the policy, it is up to national and local governments, civil society actors, and communities to see that the policy is carried out.
- Evaluation: Finally, it is necessary to ensure that the policy is achieving the proposed outcome, which can be difficult to measure. Typically, social policies remain in place for a long duration, but can be amended or terminated if they do not prove to address the original problem or concern.
This process is led by ‘policymakers’, who can be involved in part of or support the whole cycle. They create policy to address an identified need, then guide the policy through adoption, to implementation, and finally into ongoing review.
Who makes policy?
The term ‘policymakers’ is wide-ranging. In different contexts, it can refer to the board members of an organisation, government ministers or the management team of a sports federation.
The more complex the impacted environment or higher-level the desired change, the more complex the policymakers role or need for external input, such as specific legal or HR advisors.