The paper offers an introduction to analysis of the policy process. It identifies and describes
theoretical approaches in political science, sociology, anthropology, international relations and
management. It then reviews five cross-cutting themes: (a) the dichotomy between policy-making
and implementation; (b) the management of change; (c) the role of interest groups in the policy
process; (d) ownership of the policy process; and (e) the narrowing of policy alternatives. The paper
concludes with a 21-point check-list of ‘what makes policy happen’. A glossary of key terms is also
The key argument of the paper is that a ‘linear model’ of policy-making, characterised by objective
analysis of options and separation of policy from implementation, is inadequate. Instead, policy and
policy implementation are best understood as a ‘chaos of purposes and accidents’. A combination of
concepts and tools from different disciplines can be deployed to put some order into the chaos,
including policy narratives, policy communities, discourse analysis, regime theory, change
management, and the role of street-level bureaucrats in implementation.