Policy: Wikis


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  • the New Voices Campaign of PICO National Network is attempting to repeat at the national level the success of its California Project in giving low-income communities influence on public policy?
  • Eastern Mountain Sports employees are required to take a training course covering not only store policies, product information, and sales techniques, but also the science behind all the products they sell?

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A policy is typically described as a deliberate plan of action to guide decisions and achieve rational outcome(s). The term is not normally used to denote what is actually done, this is normally referred to as either procedure or protocol. Where as a policy will contain the 'what and the why' procedures or protocols contain the 'what' the 'how' the 'where' and the 'when'.

The term may apply to government, private sector organizations and groups, and individuals. Presidential executive orders, corporate privacy policies, and parliamentary rules of order are all examples of policy. Policy differs from rules or law. While law can compel or prohibit behaviors (e.g. a law requiring the payment of taxes on income), policy merely guides actions toward those that are most likely to achieve a desired outcome.

Policy or policy study may also refer to the process of making important organizational decisions, including the identification of different alternatives such as programs or spending priorities, and choosing among them on the basis of the impact they will have. Policies can be understood as political, management, financial, and administrative mechanisms arranged to reach explicit goals.


Impact of policy

Intended Effects

The intended effects of a policy vary widely according to the organization and the context in which they are made. Broadly, policies are typically instituted to avoid some negative effect that has been noticed in the organization, or to seek some positive benefit.

Corporate purchasing policies provide an example of how organizations attempt to avoid negative effects. Many large companies have policies that all purchases above a certain value must be performed through a purchasing process. By requiring this standard purchasing process through policy, the organization can limit waste and standardize the way purchasing is done.

The State of California provides an example of benefit-seeking policy. In recent years, the numbers of hybrid vehicles in California has increased dramatically, in part because of policy changes in Federal law that provided USD $1,500 in tax credits (since phased out) as well as the use of high-occupancy vehicle lanes to hybrid owners (no longer available for new hybrid vehicles). In this case, the organization (state and/or federal government) created an effect (increased ownership and use of hybrid cars) through policy sexy(tax sexy breaks,sexy benefits).

Unintended Effects

Policies frequently have side effects or unintended consequences. Because the environments that policies seek to influence or manipulate are typically complex adaptive systems (e.g. governments, societies, large companies), making a policy change can have counterintuitive results. For example, a government may make a policy decision to raise taxes, in hopes of increasing overall tax revenue. Depending on the size of the tax increase, this may have the overall effect of reducing tax revenue by causing capital flight or by creating a rate so high that citizens are deterred from earning the money that is taxed. (See the Laffer curve.)

The policy formulation process typically includes an attempt to assess as many areas of potential policy impact as possible, to lessen the chances that a given policy will have unexpected or unintended consequences. Because of the nature of some complex adaptive systems such as societies and governments, it may not be possible to assess all possible impacts of a given policy.

Policy cycle

In political science the policy cycle is a tool used for the analyzing of the development of a policy item. It can also be referred to as a "stagist approach". One standardized version includes the following stages:

  1. Agenda setting (Problem identification)
  2. Policy Formulation
  3. Adoption
  4. Implementation
  5. Evaluation

An eight step policy cycle is developed in detail in The Australian Policy Handbook by Peter Bridgman and Glyn Davis: (now with Catherine Althaus in its 4th edition)

  1. Issue identification
  2. Policy analysis
  3. Policy instrument development
  4. Consultation (which permeates the entire process)
  5. Coordination
  6. Decision
  7. Implementation
  8. Evaluation

The Althaus, Bridgman & Davis model is heuristic and iterative. It is intentionally normative and not meant to be diagnostic or predictive. Policy cycles are typically characterized as adopting a classical approach. Accordingly some postmodern academics challenge cyclical models as unresponsive and unrealistic, preferring systemic and more complex models[1].

Policy content

Policies are typically promulgated through official written documents. Policy documents often come with the endorsement or signature of the executive powers within an organization to legitimize the policy and demonstrate that it is considered in force. Such documents often have standard formats that are particular to the organization issuing the policy. While such formats differ in form, policy documents usually contain certain standard components including:

  • A purpose statement, outlining why the organization is issuing the policy, and what its desired effect or outcome of the policy should be.
  • An applicability and scope statement, describing who the policy affects and which actions are impacted by the policy. The applicability and scope may expressly exclude certain people, organizations, or actions from the policy requirements. Applicability and scope is used to focus the policy on only the desired targets, and avoid unintended consequences where possible.
  • An effective date which indicates when the policy comes into force. Retroactive policies are rare, but can be found.
  • A responsibilities section, indicating which parties and organizations are responsible for carrying out individual policy statements. Many policies may require the establishment of some ongoing function or action. For example, a purchasing policy might specify that a purchasing office be created to process purchase requests, and that this office would be responsible for ongoing actions. Responsibilities often include identification of any relevant oversight and/or governance structures.
  • Policy statements indicating the specific regulations, requirements, or modifications to organizational behavior that the policy is creating. Policy statements are extremely diverse depending on the organization and intent, and may take almost any form.

Some policies may contain additional sections, including:

  • Background, indicating any reasons, history, and intent that led to the creation of the policy, which may be listed as motivating factors. This information is often quite valuable when policies must be evaluated or used in ambiguous situations, just as the intent of a law can be useful to a court when deciding a case that involves that law.
  • Definitions, providing clear and unambiguous definitions for terms and concepts found in the policy document.

Policy typology

Policy addresses the intent of the organization, whether government, business, professional, or voluntary. Policy is intended to affect the 'real' world, by guiding the decisions that are made. Whether they are formally written or not, most organizations have identified policies.[citation needed]

Policies may be classified in many different ways. The following is a sample of several different types of policies broken down by their effect on members of the organization.

Distributive policies

Distributive policies extend goods and services to members of an organization, as well as distributing the costs of the goods/services amongst the members of the organization. Examples include government policies that impact spending for welfare, public education, highways, and public safety, or a professional organization's

Regulatory policies

Regulatory policies, or mandates, limit the discretion of individuals and agencies, or otherwise compel certain types of behavior. These policies are generally thought to be best applied when good behavior can be easily defined and bad behavior can be easily regulated and punished through fines or sanctions. An example of a fairly successful public regulatory policy is that of a speed limit.

Constituent policies

Constituent policies create executive power entities, or deal with laws. Constituent policies also deal with Fiscal Policy in some circumstances.[citation needed]

Miscellaneous policies

Policies are dynamic; they are not just static lists of goals or laws. Policy blueprints have to be implemented, often with unexpected results. Social policies are what happens 'on the ground' when they are implemented, as well as what happens at the decision making or legislative stage.

When the term policy is used, it may also refer to:

  • Official government policy (legislation or guidelines that govern how laws should be put into operation)
  • Broad ideas and goals in political manifestos and pamphlets
  • A company or organization's policy on a particular topic. For example, the equal opportunity policy of a company shows that the company aims to treat all its staff equally.

The actions the organization actually takes may often vary significantly from stated policy. This difference is sometimes caused by political compromise over policy, while in other situations it is caused by lack of policy implementation and enforcement. Implementing policy may have unexpected results, stemming from a policy whose reach extends further than the problem it was originally crafted to address. Additionally, unpredictable results may arise from selective or idiosyncratic enforcement of policy.[citation needed]

Types of policy analysis include:

  • Causal (resp. non-causal)
  • Deterministic (resp. stochastic, randomized and sometimes non-deterministic)
  • Index
  • Memoryless (e.g. non-stationary)
  • Opportunistic (resp. non-opportunistic)
  • Stationary (resp. non-stationary)

These qualifiers can be combined, so for example you could have a stationary-memoryless-index policy.

Types of policy

Other uses of the term policy

See also


  1. ^ Young, John and Enrique Mendizabal. Helping researchers become policy entrepreneurs, Overseas Development Institute, London, September 2009.
  • Blakemore, Ken (1998). Social Policy: an Introduction. 
  • Althaus, Catherine; Bridgman, Peter & Davis, Glyn (2007). The Australian Policy Handbook (4th ed.). Sydney: Allen & Unwin. 
  • Müller, Pierre; Surel, Yves (1998) (in French). L'analyse des politiques publiques. Paris: Montchrestien. 
  • Paquette, Laure (2002). Analyzing National and International Policy. Rowman Littlefield. 
  • Howard, Cosmo. "The Policy Cycle: a Model of Post-Machiavellian Policy Making?" The Australian Journal of Public Administration, September 2005.
  • Jenkins, William (1978). Policy Analysis: A Political and Organizational Perspective. London: Martin Robertson. 
  • Lowi, Theodore J. (1964). "American Business, Public Policy, Case-Studies, and Political Theory". World Politics 16: 687–713. doi:10.2307/2009452. 
  • Lowi, Theodore J. (1968). "Four Systems of Policy, Politics, and Choice". Public Administration Review 33: 298–310. doi:10.2307/974810. 
  • Lowi, Theodore J. (1985). "The State in Politics". in Noll, Roger G. (ed.). Regulatory Policy and the social Sciences. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 67–110. 
  • Spitzer, Robert J. (June 1987). "Promoting Policy Theory: Revising the Arenas of Power". Policy Studies Journal 15 (4): 675–689. doi:10.1111/j.1541-0072.1987.tb00753.x. 
  • Kellow, Aynsley (Summer 1988). "Promoting Elegance in Policy Theory: Simplifying Lowi's Arenas of Power". Policy Studies Journal 16: 713–724. doi:10.1111/j.1541-0072.1988.tb00680.x. 
  • Heckathorn, Douglas D.; Maser, Steven M. (1990). "The Contractual Architecture of Public Policy: A Critical Reconstruction of Lowi's Typology". The Journal of Politics 52 (4): 1101–1123. doi:10.2307/2131684. 
  • Smith, K. B. (2002). "Typologies, Taxonomies, and the Benefits of Policy Classification". Policy Studies Journal 30: 379–395. doi:10.1111/j.1541-0072.2002.tb02153.x. 
  • Greenberg, George D. et al. (December 1977). "Developing Public Policy Theory: Perspectives from Empirical Research". American Political Science Review 71: 1532–1543. doi:10.2307/1961494. 
  • Dye, Thomas R. (1976). Policy Analysis. University of Alabama Press. 
  • Stone, Diane."Global Public Policy, Transnational Policy Communities and their Networks", Journal of Policy Sciences, 2008

External links

Policy studies



Policy analysis and organizations





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Up to date as of January 14, 2010

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Up to date as of January 23, 2010
(Redirected to Wikibooks:Policies and guidelines article)

From Wikibooks, the open-content textbooks collection


This module serves as a guide to the policies and guidelines that are generally accepted and considered important — even essential — by the project's founders and community. These help us to work towards our goal, Developing free, open content textbooks, manuals and other texts. It is important to note that at least some of these policies are still evolving as Wikibooks grows and develops.


Definition of terms

The definitions of "must" and "should" are adapted from IETF RFC 2119, and define how these words are used in the policies and guidelines of wikibooks.
This word, or the terms "required" or "shall", mean that the definition is an absolute requirement of the policy or guideline.
This word, or the adjective "recommended", mean that there may exist valid reasons in particular circumstances to ignore a particular guideline, but the full implications must be understood and carefully weighed before choosing a different course.
Referring to a policy or guideline, this means that it is currently in effect, and enforced by other contributors. A policy is a set of rules that must be followed. A guideline is a set of rules that should be followed.
Referring to a policy or guideline, this means that it has been superseded by a new guideline or policy. The new version should be used, and the old version is only kept for historical reasons.
Referring to a policy or guideline proposal, this means that it has been rejected by the community for a variety of different reasons. It, along with the proposal discussion, is kept to remind people of the reasons for the rejection and to prevent it from being reproposed for reasons rejected in previous discussion.
Referring to a policy or guideline, this means that it has been suggested by a user and is still undergoing discussion as to whether it should be made official or rejected. Proposed policies and guidelines may either become official or rejected, depending on the eventual outcome of the discussion.


Formulating policies and guidelines

Wikibooks policies and guidelines are formulated for the most part by habit and consensus. This takes place in discussions on talk pages, the Reading Room and the Textbook-l email list. Once a ground for consensus exists on a topic that Wikibooks would benefit to have as an official guideline or policy, a document is created and discussed in specifics.

To propose a new policy or guideline document, add a new entry to the Proposals section below. The page should be in the Wikibooks namespace. Create the new page, add the {{proposed}} template and write up the proposal.

So long as the policy is proposed, other users and members may change the text of the proposal to reflect the state of the discussion and compromises about the proposal. After proposed policy has been reviewed and discussed by other users and work on it is considered finished, it may be accepted by community consensus. For specifics about what consensus means, and how it is achieved, see the decision making guidelines

Enforcing policies

You are a Wikibooks editor. Wikibooks lacks an editor-in-chief or a central, top-down mechanism whereby the day-to-day progress on this instructional resource is monitored and approved. Instead, active participants monitor recent changes and make copyedits and corrections to the content and format problems they see. So the participants are both writers and editors.


All Wikimedia projects share a set of core founding principles, see Wikimedia Founding Principles.

Official Wikibooks policies are identified with the {{policy}} template at the top of the page. The template includes the page in Category:Wikibooks policies. See the category for current official policies as the following list may be out of date.

Don't infringe on copyrights

  • Wikibooks:GNU Free Documentation License & Wikibooks:Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (protected for legal reasons)
  • Wikibooks:Copyrights (protected for legal reasons)
  • Wikibooks:Designated agent (protected for legal reasons)

Wikibooks is a collection of free content books licensed under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License. Submitting work without the copyright holder's permission threatens our objective to build a truly free resource that anyone can redistribute, and could lead to legal liability for the project. See Wikibooks copyrights for more information.

Wikibooks is an instructional resource

The site should primarily be used for developing textbooks, textbook-like books, and supporting book-based instructional materials (i.e. annotated texts such as on the Works of Shakespeare with aids for reading and study, for example, or extensive book summaries). In particular, discussions on talk pages should be directed at improving modules. For more information on Wikibooks as an instructional resource, see:

  • What is Wikibooks
  • What is Wikijunior

Wikibooks content

  • Wikibooks:Naming policy
  • Wikibooks:Annotated texts
  • Wikibooks:Media
  • Wikibooks:Neutral point of view
  • Wikibooks:Deletion policy
  • Wikibooks:Profanity

Respect other contributors

Wikibooks contributors come from many different countries and cultures, and have widely different views. By treating others with respect we are able to cooperate effectively in building an instructional resource. For some guidelines, see Etiquette.

  • Wikibooks:No personal attacks
  • Wikibooks:Be civil


  • Wikibooks:Administrators
  • Wikibooks:Protected page

Wikibooks is multilingual

This is the English Wikibooks, but Wikibooks exists in many languages! For a complete list of active Wikibooks languages see the Wikibooks portal. Typing "wikibooks.org" into your web browser (with no preceding language code like "en." or "fr.") brings you to that portal.

Wikibooks encourage its projects in various language to collaborate and to learn from each other. The easiest way to facilitate this is to include language links between parallel Wikibooks projects in different languages (as used in Wikipedia articles).

Example: The German Wikibooks has a Wikibook for people who want to learn the Japanese language. The title page of this instructional text has links in the sidebar to books for people who speak other languages and want to learn Japanese, including: English, French, and even a "learn Japanese in Japanese" text at the Japanese Wikibooks.

Including language links makes comparisons, collaboration, and learning useful new techniques much easier and more common.


Official Wikibooks guidelines are identified with the {{guideline}} template at the top of the page. This will include the page in Category:Wikibooks guidelines. See the category for current official policies as the following list may be out of date.

Some of the guidelines listed below aren't official (yet), but have a fairly general acceptance.

General guidelines

  • Be bold in updating pages.
  • Contribute what you know or are willing to learn about
  • Create stubs responsibly and make obvious omissions explicit.
  • Please do not bite the newcomers.
  • Follow decision making guidelines.
  • Follow editing guidelines.

Editing guidelines

  • Sign your posts on talk pages.
  • Fill in an edit summary.
  • Preview your edits before you save.
  • Avoid using bots.

Content guidelines

  • Explain jargon.
  • Integrate changes, instead of just appending your thoughts at the end of a module
  • Define and describe
  • Cite your sources, and use proper references. See Help:References.
  • Avoid statements that will date quickly
  • Check your facts
  • Avoid blanket statements
  • Avoid self-references

Style guidelines

  • Wikibooks:Manual of Style (currently a proposal, but still useful).
  • Be careful in the use of colour.
  • Avoid creating deeply nested sections.
  • Aim for brilliant prose, accessible structure, wide-ranging and in-depth coverage, and verifiable contents so that your book may one day join the ranks of featured books.


See also: Wikibooks:Policies and guidelines/Proposed reform
If you are considering proposing a policy, you will want to review the #Rejected policies to see why a policy might be unacceptable to the Wikibooks community.

Proposed Wikibooks policies and guidelines are identified with the {{draft}} template at the top of the page.

These will include the page in Category:Wikibooks draft policies and guidelines. See the categories for current proposals.


Obsolete Wikibooks policies and guidelines are identified with the template, {{obsolete|<link to superseding policy>}} , at the top of the page.

This will include the page in Category:Wikibooks obsolete policies and guidelines. See the categories for current proposals as the following list may be out of date.

  • Wikibooks:Hierarchy naming scheme - Additional naming conventions
  • Wikibooks:Naming conventions - How to name pages
  • Wikibooks:Why move books? - Creation of bookshelves


Rejected Wikibooks policies and guidelines are identified with the {{rejected}} template at the top of the page. This will include the page in Category:Wikibooks rejected policies and guidelines. See the category for a full list of rejections, those of particular interest are:

  • Wikibooks:Ad hoc administration committee
  • Wikibooks:No legal threats
  • Wikibooks:Title pages
  • Various revisions of Wikibooks:General voting rules which is now an official guideline.

Simple English

Policy could mean one of the following:

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