ASTK15727U CANCELLED - COURSE: Power tools: Public policy design and instrumentation in the information age

Volume 2017/2018

Elective for Security Risk Management


Content: Any form of government action and intervention – from recycling to terrorism - eventually comes down to the choice of tools. The course deals with the ‘toolbox’ at hand when making this choice. Developed as an alternative to program-specific evaluations and process models of public policy, the ‘tools of government’ tradition offers an approach to policy design and instrumentation that is general and cross-sectoral and focused on the means and ends of public policy. As such, policy instrumentation and design ranges from general questions of power, ethics and the policy-politics nexus to highly practical questions about the application of tools to specific policy problems and the context surrounding these. The course is divided in sections on I) an introduction to the key issues and debates in policy instrumentation and design II) the main trends, developments and challenges facing the use of the governmental toolbox and the so-called information age and III) the question of how to assess the legitimacy and efficiency of tools and mixes of tools.

  • Introduction to policy design and instrumentation
  • The politics of policy instrumentation
  • The regulatory common sense: sticks, carrots and sermons
  • Responsive regulation and the ‘benign big gun’
  • The NATO model, old and new
  • Finding the right tools for the job: the mixed approach to policy design and instrumentation
  • Mediatization, networks and informational governance
  • Risk management, wicked problems, dangers and uncertainty
  • Performance management, scientific policy and the experimental revolution
  • The case for hard governance: deterrence and compliance
  • The case for soft governance: nudging and choice architecture
  • Wrap-up and concluding session


(Two sessions will be allocated to discussion/supervision of term papers – timing to be agreed upon with students) 

Learning Outcome

Students will gain proficiency in the field of policy instrumentation and design, which is central to most political, administrative and advisory functions in public agencies, as well as many forms of consultancy and functions in private organizations attempting to influence public policy. Additionally, the tools-based approach is completely cross-sectoral, equipping students with a grid of analysis and action that can be applied to any policy field. A particular advantage is also that the tools-based approach allows and even requires an understanding of the broader political, technological and socio-economic conditions at stake in the concrete choice of specific instruments and tools.


  • Hood, Christopher. 1983. The Tools of Government. London: Macmillan Press
  • Hood, Christopher, and Helen Margetts. 2007. The Tools of Government in the Digital Age. Houndsmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Salamon, Lester M., and Odus. V. Elliot, eds. 2002. The Tools of Government: A Guide to the New Governance. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Bemelmans-Videc, Marie-Louise, Ray C. Rist, and Evert Vedung, eds. 1998. Carrots, Sticks and Sermons. Policy Instruments & Their Evaluation. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers.
  • Hood, Christopher, and Helen Margetts. 2016. "Tools Approaches." In Contemporary Approaches to Public Policy. Theories, Controverses and Perspectives, eds. Guy B. Peters and Philippe Zittoun. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 133-155
  • Lascoumes, Pierre, and Patrick Le Galès. 2007. "Introduction: Understanding Public Policy through Its Instruments—From the Nature of Instruments to the Sociology of Public Policy Instrumentation."  Governance 20 (1):1-21.
  • Le Galés, Patrick. 2011. ‘Policy Instruments and Governance’, in Bevir, Mark (ed.): The Sage Handbook of Governance, London: Sage
  • Howlett, Michael. 1991. "Policy Instruments, Policy Styles, and Policy Implementation."  Policy Studies Journal 19 (2):1-21.
  • Howlett, Michael. 2014. "From the 'old' to the 'new' policy design: design thinking beyond markets and collaborative governance."  Policy Sciences 47 (3):187-207.
  • Linder, Stephen. & Peters, B. Guy. 1989. ‘Instruments of Government: Perceptions and Contexts’, Journal of Public Policy, 9(1): 35-58
Relevant bachelor degree.
Lectures combined with exercises and debate.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • Total
  • 28
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Written assignment
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Criteria for exam assesment


• Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course’s goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings

• Grade 7 given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings

• Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner.’