Considering the policy cycle

The content of the Roadmap for Reform will vary depending on the phase of the policy cycle that is being addressed and that the dialogue stakeholders are trying to influence. Without entering here into academic disputes on the exact number of phases – some scholars would include other phases or stages within one same phase – what seems worth keeping in mind is that every public policy has a life cycle, which can be conceptualised as a process comprised of the following stages:


Raising awareness about a public problem and giving it enough priority so that it enters the public agenda.

Policy formulation

Different options are constructed, alternatives are studied and strategies to advance interests are defined and pursued.

Policy implementation

The different ways in which activities are arranged to produce the effects foreseen in the policy.

Policy evaluation

Assessment of the effectiveness and impact of the policy and elaboration of recommendations for improvement or reversal.

Due to political factors and depending on the stability of the political context in which the targeted policy is embedded, these phases often overlap or are not even completed before another initiative is launched. Nonetheless, this depiction provides civil and political society representatives with a more or less clear idea of when their chances for inserting and advancing their interests are best.

In this respect, each of the different stages of the policy cycle can be seen as specific entry points for multi-stakeholder dialogue, with and each entry point implies a different logic of intervention, as outlined below:

If a public problem is recognised as such and has entered the political agenda, the dialogue should focus on clarifying the objectives of the related policy, as well as on and analysing alternatives and weighing different options for the policy while its being (re)formulated.

Entry points can pre-determine to a large extent the kind of effects that the whole dialogue process can produce and the sort of influence that the Roadmaps for Reform may play or, in other words, the level of detail and type of measures and recommendations included. Moreover, it should now be clear that a Roadmap for Reform can serve as an entry point to a phase of the policy cycle too.

To give an example, INSPIRED Tunisia (2012-2014) aimed at setting the basic principles of social justice (agenda setting) and the consensus reached in the course of the dialogue took the form of a social pact between the main political and social actors in the country. On a different stage, INSPIRED Kyrgyzstan (2012-2014) developed an Action Plan for the Transition to Digital Broadcasting, assigning duties, tasks and responsibilities to the stakeholders (formulation phase). Such a level of detail achieved in INSPIRED Kyrgyzstan corresponds to the specifics of a policy reform process which is more advanced and therefore focused more on concrete questions related to the digitalisation of radio and TV programmes.

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