Policy analysis in practice is part of politics. An understanding of how policies are made and implemented, therefore, can also be constructively used to influence processes and products. That has been an underlying rationale of much of M-POWER’s work in this area.
Several different dimensions of the policy cycle in the Mekong Region countries deserve attention.
First is the importance of problem framing. The pathways to influence are diverse and certainly do not just depend on expert advice or rational comparison of policy options.
Second is the way policies are institutionalized. Here there are major differences with levels.
Third is the influence policies have on practices. Water bureaucracies, for instance, have widely adopted modern discourses of participation and integration, but have rarely changed their day-to-day practices. Gaps between management discourses, policies on paper and actions on the ground are often large.
Fourth is the issue of agency in the policy process. Although it is tempting to attribute laws, regulations and mandates to governments other external actors often have substantial influence.