Differences and similarities of the elite and incremental policy theory models

It is very necessary that librarians, records managers, archivists and other information science professionals be well versed in information policy analysis, design, implementation and evaluation in order for them to contribute effectively in the information policy processes. In this paper the author is going to compare and contrast between the Incremental and the Elite theory models of Information policy.

The author is going to define the terms policy model, incremental and elite theory models. Haynes and Mickelson [1997:58] say “a model is a representative of some aspect of real world designed to yield insight into or to focus attention on a specific segment of t.” The incremental theory of policy model is defined by www.answers .com as follows: ‘Incremental policy making looks at existing programs or policies and uses these as a foundation to implement change.” Mutongi [2012:52] simply defines the incremental policy model as largely a continuation of past policies marked only by incremental changes. On the other hand the elite policy model is defined [ibid] as a theory which “views public policy as largely determined by the preferences and governing elites.” The California State University Graduate Center for Public Policy and Administration online document says “A policy-making elite in an environment characterized by apathy and information distortions and governs a largely passive mass. Policy flows downward from the elites to the mass.”
There are a number of similarities between the incremental and the elite policy models. The first is that both theories do not favor fast, quick or revolutionary changes. The elite theory believes that “There must be slow and continuous movement of the non-elites into elite positions, but after only after they accepted elite values; in order to maintain stability and avoid a revolution…changes in public policy will be incremental rather than revolutionary…” The same applies to the incremental policy model; it says policies tend to be only marginally different from those that have gone before, no radical changes.” Radical changes are viewed as revolutionary and not compatible with both incremental and elite theory models.
The second similarity between the incremental and elite theory model is that both theories are conservative theories. These theories try to maintain the “Status quo” preserving the current state of affairs. The elite theory model’s aim is to preserve the current state of affairs. The elite theory model’s aim is to preserve the basic values of the social system [Dye 1981].The same applies to the incremental theory model which seeks to preserve old policies and that that if there is any need for a change, those changes must be based upon what is already there and that those changes must be only minimum or small not big jumps.
The third similarity observed by the author of this paper is that the incremental and elite theory model seems to be elite driven rather than mass driven. The elite theory assumes that the masses are passive; they do not know what they want and so are not consulted when crafting policies. As long as long as the wishes of the masses are against the elites their votes or voices will be vetoed by the elites. The elites are powerful and the masses are powerless ill-informed and poor.
It is also obvious that incremental policy makers are the elites, that is, the educated, rich or persons of political power. If the masses demand something which may be viewed as a big “jump” or a 100% deviation from the old policies, the move would be viewed as a revolution, and the masses’ voices would be drowned by the elites’ adherence to the old policies. So both the incremental and elite theory models are elitist theories.

The two theories, the incremental and elite public policies are directed from the top downwards. Policy – makers influence masses rather than masses influencing the masses. Public policy is elite driven rather than people driven Dye (1981) says the elite are subject to little direct influence from the apathetic masses. The elite influence the masses than vice –versa.

Although the author had show the similarities between the incremental and the elite theory differences do exist between the two. The first is that the incremental policy changes are influenced by people within the institutions. For example, agricultural policies can be changed by people within the ministry of Agriculture, ministry official who had access to old agricultural policies. There is a need to have persons in institutional positions to make the necessary incremental changes. However, it is not so with the elite theory. The elites may not be attached to the institutions, but they can influence who can be appointed as top leaders of those institutions. They are able influence policies which can be crafted by institutions. The elites are sometime called ‘kingmakers’.
The second difference is that the incremental theory model bases any policy changes on old policies already in operation. No new stand alone policies are accepted. On the other hand the elite theory is only there to protect basic social system and preservation of values such as private property, limited government and individual liberty. So a policy which is not based on any previous policy may be implemented , as long as that policy seeks to protect the interests of the elites.
The third difference is according to the en.wikipedia.org/wiki/incrementalism, incrementalism is a planning methodology normally found where a large strategic plan is either unnecessary or has failed to develop, and for that reason it is called “muddling through”. The incremental theory model is not rigid because numerous changes can be effected sometimes without sufficient justification for those incremental changes. The incremental theory operates where there is no strategic plan and usually the increment can be a result of react measures rather than being proactive. On the other hand the elite theory model is based upon strategic plans of the elites which are there to protect the elites’ interests. The elite theory is not able to make reactive measures since it is rigid and bound by strategic plans which are meant to protect the elite’s interests.
The author had shown that the two policy theory models, that is, the incremental and elite are similar in that they are conservative theories and that both are elite driven policy theories, that the policies are not mass driven but they are enforced from the top to the masses. The differences are that the elite theory model is based upon an organizational strategic plans while the incremental policy model operate where there is no strategic but rather it is reactive than proactive in nature

California State University Graduate Center for Public Policy and Administration,2002,Woman and Public Policy-Models of Public Policymaking,CSU Graduate Center for Public Policy,USA
Caramani D,2008 Comparative Politics, Oxford University Press, Uk
Dye & Zeigler, 1981, The Irony of Democracy, Cole Books, CA,USA
Lester & Stewart J, 2000, Public Policy: An Evolutionary Approach, Belmont, CA

Etiwel Mutero holds an Bsc Honours Degree in Records and Archives Management from the Zimbabwe Open University.Do you want assistance in writing your college or university assignment? You can contact Etiwel Mutero on 00264817871070 or etiwelm02@gmail.com

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