ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Extending Design Thinking to Public Policy

A Prototype for Fiscal Rule

Design thinking as a subject has grown enormously in theoretical content over the past 50 years. However, both design thinkers and policymakers have not come closer to developing design thinking in policymaking. Recognising this research gap, a prototype called the basic resource gap model has been designed as a supplement to the extant fiscal rule, with fiscal deficit as its target. The study highlights both the potential applicability of the design-thinking approach to the process and specifies an application that can supplement the extant fiscal rule and potentially enhance fiscal management.

The authors gratefully acknowledge the guidance received from Y V Reddy, Indira Rajaraman, R Budhhirja and Sudhir Srivastava, and the research assistance provided by Chinmay Joshi, research assistant, S P Jain Institute of Management and Research. The authors are grateful to the anonymous referee for their insightful comments and suggestions. Views expressed in this paper are personal.

Design thinking has undergone significant expansion, both in terms of theoretical content and practical app­lication since the first systematic discussion on the subject in Simon’s The Sciences of the Artificial (1969). Initially grounded in the field of engineering, design thinking gradually and successfully moved to applications in product and service innovation as it has the “potential to improve problem definition and mechanism design in policy making processes” (Mintrom and Luetjens 2016). Design thinking has gained currency as solutions emanating from its application are progressively refined through an iterative process of providing a voice to the end users and engaging them in shaping decisions­(Allio 2014). Notwithstanding this, design thinking has made limited progress in its application in public policymaking, even though there is huge potential in this field, because of the presence of unintended consequences (Shergold 2015; Mulder 2017; Norman 2013).

Evidence suggests that public sector innovation (PSI) labs are, of late, helping to create a new era of experimental government and rapid experimentation in policy design (McGnn et al 2018). However, such applications are limited to micro aspects of public policy, such as public transport systems, malaria eradication programmes, etc (Hasso Plattner Institute 2010). The application of design thinking at the macro level of policymaking has been limited due perceived qualms among researchers that policies cannot be designed in the manner that a house or piece of furniture can (Dryzek and Ripley 1988; Deleon 1988). However, there are conversely some researchers who opine that design thinking has ample inherent potential to systematically study and improve policy design, and that application of design thinking to ­policymaking leads to more nuanced solutions (Brown 2008; Howlett 2014; Schon 1988, 1992).

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Updated On : 24th Aug, 2020
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