Sources of Policy Decision Failure

Professor: Mazarr
Units: 1.0
Elective Course

The Pardee RAND program is designed for aspiring policy analysts and policy makers, to provide tools and techniques for the effective analysis of policy ideas. Yet all too often, individuals and groups making decisions about such policies engage in disastrous—and preventable—errors. Such dangers of failures in decision making could be equally relevant to any of the three primary policy engagement streams; the sources of failure we will examine apply equally well to policy analysis, community action and technology-empowered policy action.

This course is designed to complement the general policy analysis components of the program with a specific emphasis on sources of such decision failure—routes to mistaken policy analysis and judgment. It builds on the content of several Pardee core courses, including policy analysis, policy making in complex environments, designing policy solutions, working in complex environments, and understanding human systems. It does so through a wide-ranging examination of the literature on decision making and decision failure, flaws in rationality and judgment, group processes, and the role of motivated beliefs. The course places a strong emphasis on case studies.