Policy Network Analysis is emerging as an innovative management practice. It has the potential to promote good governance. A network approach to the public policy-making process is beneficial to government as well as non-governmental actors who are not always represented. In the modern world, an incompetent policy-making process is not ideal. Inefficiency widens the gap between governmental and non-governmental policy actors. This is why a strategic measure ought to be adopted by the government in order to be representative of all groups. Citizen engagement that is monitored is essential.
Policy making has always been hierarchical and traditional hence it is time to adopt new approaches. The process of public policy-making ought to be representative of the interests of all stakeholders. In order to ensure that the government creates policies that are efficient and effective, policy network analysis has been adopted by some countries. As a result, they have managed to achieve policy goals, facilitate policy influence, and strengthen their political weight due to the numbers involved in this process.
The problem of inefficient policies is a result of an incompetent public policy-making process. In some stages of the policy-making process, some stakeholders or groups are excluded from the decision making especially women, children, and minor interest groups. The inefficiency calls for the policymakers to redress the situation so as to ensure that participatory policy-making and engagement of all citizens are adhered to. It is essential to harness the policies through informed and comprehensive strategies that do not marginalize any group (Koma, 2013).
Furthermore, it is noteworthy that a networked approach to policy making fosters citizen engagement which is the best strategy that the government should make sure that it is highly effective (Obasi & Lekorwe, 2014:3). It helps in strengthening a sound investment in the relationship between all groups hence creating quality policies. This approach highlights why it is important to deal with the inefficiency of policies and the process by which they are made. It is important to harness communication between all policy actors at the initial stage of policy making. Consultation has to be both bottom-up and top-down. Free and interactive communication and thorough consensus among diverse policy community helps remove formal barriers in the formulation and implementation stages. This creates a collaborative relationship among all stakeholders.
With respect to other countries that have adopted this approach, Australia and New Zealand are at the forefront with their success stories. They have both devolved authority to citizen and local government stakeholders (Kootz, 2006:459). The United States is also successful in policy network analysis as it has made efforts to be inclusive and participatory by involving the different stakeholders in all the stages of policy making. An example is seen in their environmental policy. Huairou Commission had also initially excluded women’s groups from global level decision-making. However, the commission then adopted a network approach where over 11000 women’s groups at grassroots levels were given a platform to participate in the public policy-making process (Perkin & Court, 2005:3).
This study reviewed Botswana’s policy-making process by synthesizing existing literature. According to Marumo (2017:2) government of Botswana provides a few opportunities for public engagement and participation in the policy-making process. A documentary study was used to identify the three key research objectives. They are; why the network approach works, how the approach influences the policy-making process, and lessons for capacity building were identified. The networked approach was specifically analyzed to help identify a suitable strategy to assist the government in creating policies that are representative of all groups.
Creating a link between all stakeholders has quantifiable benefits and opportunities that the government should adopt. Due to policy network analysis, the general citizenry stands a better chance of being heard instead of depending on their political representative to make decisions on their behalf (Perkin & Court, 2005:5). This approach is a tool that bridges the gap between the marginalized groups and those at the center of the policy-making process. In addition, involving multiple stakeholders helps build a trustworthy government thus promoting democracy (Obasi & Lekorwe, 2014:3). All these are reasons why it is essential to embark on this approach as it is better than any other approach that has been used to create policies.
Industrialized countries have managed to adopt a networked approach in their public policy-making process (Kootz, 2005:466). Botswana as a developing country stands in a good stance as it has theorized a few efforts to involve some groups but an inclusive and representative policy-making process is a strategic way of improving the usage of national resources and promoting good governance at all levels.
Citizen engagement and participation are essential in policy creation. When planning for development, all the affected parties should be given a platform to debate and give opinions on policy issues and solutions. This includes those at the periphery as they tend to be the most alienated when the numerous policies are formulated and processed through all the phases. Participants must be allowed to actively take part in policy-making for they are the beneficiaries of the development that follows the implementation of such policies (Obasi & Lekorwe, 2014). The government ought to develop a comprehensive communication strategy and educate all stakeholders about their importance in decision-making. Another key message is promoting creativity and consensus among the different groups as well as noting that informal links between government and those at the periphery are very important in achieving policy goals and commitments.
It is imperative to maximize the policy network analysis as it has proven to bring more opportunities for citizen engagement and participation. When the gap that exists in the public policy-making process is left unattended, it could and will bring negative implications. A centralized public policy-making process compromises the principle of democracy. Furthermore, the implemented policies may continue failing to reach the set target because knowledge management from all stakeholders was neglected thus policy issues will prevail despite efforts made by just the governmental actors.
As a result, there are key policy options that the government should adopt in an effort to re-engineer the current public policy-making process. Strengthening enabling factors for optimizing the policy network analysis. Marumo (2017:4) is of the view that more emphasis should be put on pilot mechanisms for public members, and officials to exchange ideas on the policy-making process. This can be done by holding legislative hearings. In these hearings, the general membership is given an opportunity to debate policy issues. Moreover, the government must plan for quality education about the process of public policy at all levels.
- Koma, G. P. (2013). A Policy Network Analysis of the Implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Development Program. 3 November, 1-81. Durban, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa: University of KwaZulu Natal.
- Kootz, T. M. (2005). We Finished the Plan, So Now What? Impacts ofCollaborative Stakeholder Participation on Land Use Policy. The Policy Studies Jornal , 33 (3), 459-481.
- Marumo, O. (2017). Open Budget Survey. Gaborone. Retrieved from http://www.openbudgetsurvey.org on 20th October
- Obasi, I. N., & Lekorwe, M. H. (2014). Citizen Engagement in Public Policy Making Process in Africa: The Case of Botswana. Public Policy and Administration Research: International Journal, 3 (4), 1-11.
- Perkin, E., & Court, J. (2005, August 5). Networks and Policy Processes in International Development: a literature review. Retrieved September 16, 2019, from Open Data Institute Website: http://www.odi.org.uk/cspp.