Policy Sciences

, Volume 45, Issue 1, pp 1–21

Understanding and influencing the policy process


    • School of Public AffairsUniversity of Colorado Denver
  • Tanya Heikkila
    • School of Public AffairsUniversity of Colorado Denver
  • Peter deLeon
    • School of Public AffairsUniversity of Colorado Denver
  • Paul A. Sabatier
    • Department of Environmental Science and PolicyUniversity of California Davis

DOI: 10.1007/s11077-011-9143-5

Cite this article as:
Weible, C.M., Heikkila, T., deLeon, P. et al. Policy Sci (2012) 45: 1. doi:10.1007/s11077-011-9143-5


This essay translates some of the underlying logic of existing research of policy processes into a set of strategies for shaping policy agendas and influencing policy development and change. The argument builds from a synthesized model of the individual and a simplified depiction of the political system. Three overarching strategies are introduced that operate at the policy subsystem level: developing deep knowledge; building networks; and participating for extended periods of time. The essay then considers how a democratic ethic can inform these strategies. Ultimately, the success or failure of influencing the policy process is a matter of odds, but these odds could be changed favorably if individuals employ the three strategies consistently over time. The conclusion contextualizes the arguments and interprets the strategies offered as a meta-theoretical argument of political influence.


AdvocacyPublic policyPolicy analysisPolicy changeInstitutional changeLearning

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2011