Optimizing Political Reform Processes
The information revolution, globalization and the increased presence of non-government stakeholders are forcing German policymakers to carry out reform on an ongoing basis in order to modernize the country’s governance processes and structures. At the same time, existing background conditions make it difficult to provide informed answers to the question of how much reform is needed and where.
A Bertelsmann Stiftung study has shown, however, that despite increasing constraints, “the art of governance” continues to play a decisive role in whether a reform is successful or not. What’s more, the reformers’ ability to develop and implement strategic responses very much determines how much additional room for maneuver becomes available. Policymakers who think strategically, for example, not only consider substantive aspects of policymaking, but also how reforms can be communicated and implemented in a real-world context, as well as how sufficient political momentum can be generated to guide reforms successfully through existing decision-making processes.
The Bertelsmann Stiftung’s Strategy Tool for Political Reform Processes is an analytical and consulting instrument designed to help policymakers take a holistic approach when it comes to planning, implementing and evaluating reforms. It provides a systematic overview of key strategic objectives and the agencies and departments within the political reform process associated with those objectives.
The five areas involved in reforming political processes -- agenda setting, policy formation / decision making, implementation, assessment and strategy expertise -- are thus linked in a dynamic process, offering the actors involved in reform the possibility of tracking their objectives in each of these areas across the following three dimensions:
1. Expertise, understood as the elimination of uncertainty regarding appropriate alternative solutions and the reduction of ignorance as a way of increasing policymakers’ ability to address problems efficiently and effectively
2. Communication, geared toward other policymakers and external stakeholders and designed to improve political actors’ ability to transmit their message and engage in dialogue
3. Performance, seen as the identification of actors or influential players in the decision-making process and the outcome-oriented management of the process
The SPR can be used for analyzing completed reform processes in terms of their strategic “structures.” Within ongoing processes, it supports users in assessing the situation and in making strategic adjustments. In the case of future reform processes, it can help users in conceiving and realizing strategic objectives from the start.