Besturen van besluitvormingsprocessen in het openbaar bestuur : een op de procesbenadering gebaseerd bedrijfskundig conceptueel kader

E.L. Mantz - Thijssen

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU

Abstract

The period from the sixties onwards, is characterized by an increasing attention given to decision processes concerning activities and facilities with environmental impact. Examples are decision processes concerning the location of regional or national facilities which have considerable adverse effects on the environment. Characteristic of many of these decision processes is that the number of connections that must be involved has strongly increased, as has the number of participants.

To make management of these decision processes more discussable, integrated conceptual frameworks are needed. Conceptual frameworks of this kind are, as far as is known, not yet available.

Twenty years ago, Prof. Drs. A.A. Kampfraath of the Agricultural University of Wageningen developped a management model based on the process approach. This management model has been applied in many fields since then. The model, named Wageningen management model, proves to be applicable as a frame of reference in the most various complex management situations, due to its integrated approach.

The Wageningen management model has been chosen as a starting point for this study.

Since information about the model was spread over a number of more or less recent publications, it was necessary to make a complete, consistent and up-to-date survey of the model. To make the model useful as an integral conceptual framework for management of separate decision processes, it was necessary. moreover, to adjust it to some degree. because the model is mainly focused on managerial questions concerning the implementation processes in the organization as a whole.
Making a recent survey of the model and adjusting it made up a substantial part of the study.

In the conceptual framework a distinction is made between results, processes and conditions on the one hand and management of these elements at the other hand (see figure 8.1):

Results

In most cases a chain of successive decisions will be made, previous to the actual realization such as, for instance, the construction of a road. These decisions have the character of providing a compass for the next decision in succession (a stp-by-step reduction of "the room for decision making"). Such a chain of successive decisions, resulting in a decision to actual realization, is typified as a decision-estafette of compass-providing and final decisions.

Processes which lead to the results.

From a managerial point of view, two aspects may be distinguished in the course of decision processes:
- A substantial dimension. This dimension includes the way of handling the subject matter (like "optimizing" and incremental treatment) and the nature of the various steps (like diagnosis, listing alternatives, comparing alternatives and choice).
- A decision-making technological dimension. This dimension refers to the pattern of being involved of the participants in the decision process. This can be typified by means of the phases distinguished (like pre-consultation, advising public participation and authorization) and by the way of being involved of the participants in the decision process (like authorization by óne or móre participants).

Conditions (c.q. the "bed")

Conditions refer to the affectable circumstances under the influence of which the processes take place.
Five conditions may be distinguished, namely:
- characteristics of the participants;
- organizational rules. which are represented by the set-up of the organizational structure and the procedures;
- provision of information;
- provision of knowledge;
- decision-means, which are represented by systems and technics and space-facilities.

Management

Each decision-estafette and the separate decision processes that are part of it (called the "stream" in the rest of this summary) has, from the point of view of the conceptual framework, its own management.

By definition this management is "meta" in relation to the "stream". With "meta" is meant a level of a higher logical type.

This management encompasses several kinds of decisions, namely:
- Decisions with respect to the creation and the preservation of the "bed" c.q. the conditions.
The necessity to take these decisions leads to two managerial concerns, namely:
. The strategic concern (results/means management).
This implies the care for determining the total results that has to be reached in the managed "stream", in relation to the total of conditions (the "bed") that has to be created for this;
. The conditioning concern (means management).
This implies the care for determining "which" conditions (the "bed") must be available at what time, in response to the choices made in the strategic concern;
- Decisions with respect to the utilization of the "bed" c.q. the conditions.
The necessity to take these decisions also leads to two managerial concerns, namely:
. The effectuating concern (contribution management).
This implies the care for the actual functioning of the conditions (the "bed") for the benefit of effectuating the desired contributions; The operational concern (stream management). This implies the care for determining the results, for the processes that have to be passed through for this (the "stream"), and the desired contributions to it.

Further elaboration on aspects of management has lead to the distinction between points of application and points of orientation. Points of application are those aspects of the "bed" and the "stream" that can be directly influenced. Points of orientation are those aspects of the "stream" that can only be influenced via the points of application, or that have to be taken into account.

Points of application for management can be:
- the substantial dimension of the decision process;
- the decision-making technological dimension of the decision process;
- the decision-estafette;
- the conditions (the "bed").

Points of orientation for management can be:
- the character of the substantial problems which are under discussion in the decision process; for instance a two-lane road that has to be realized;
- the level of perfection of decision making, such as the degree of feedback and the degree of tuning to other decision processes;
- "aspects" of the result, i.e. the quality of the decisions, the time required to reach the decisions and the costs; the social behaviour of and the interactions between the participants during the decision process.

For this study only those elements from the conceptual framework have been extracted which:

a. are under discussion at decision processes concerning the location of facilities which have adverse effects on the environment;
b. do refer to the situation in which one tries to "live" under the circumstances of the given conditions c.q. the .bed".

These elements are:
- management of the "stream" c.q. the fulfilment of the effectuating and the operational concern;
- three of the four points of application for management already named: the substantial dimension of decision processes; the decision-making technological dimension of decision processes and the decision-estafette;
- three of the four points of orientation for management already mentioned: the character of the substantial problems under discussion in the decision process, the level of perfection of decision making and "aspects" of the result of decision processes.

These elements are marked in figure 8.1 (with an asterisk).

With respect to this part of the conceptual framework various publications have been analysed, about:
- decision processes in general;
- decision processes with several organizations as participants and - particularly - decision processes regarding the location of facilities which have adverse effects on the environment;
- management of decision processes.

Analysis of these publications shows that the conceptual framework has a great incorporation power. By means of the conceptual framework, literature can be analysed and connected in a satisfactory way. Analysis further shows that particulary the 'substantial dimension', the 'decision-making technological dimension' and 'the level of perfection of decision making' offer a whole range of possibilities from which a choice can be made and about which a decision has to be taken.

Investigation shows that, despite the fact that there are quite a few rules and norms for decision processes in public administration. there will be considerable room for making choices concerning (elements of) the various points of application and points of orientation. This means that there will be ample scope for influencing the "stream".

It is important to emphasize that. on the basis of the conceptual framework. one should not think in terms of one "hierarchically higher" participant. who is concerned with above-mentioned management. In the first place, more participants (participants from various organizations, various departments etc.) can be engaged in management. In the second place, "A"- and "B"-participants in the managed "stream" can be engaged in management of this "stream" (see figure 8.1).

With this, the most important difference has been indicated between the process approach and the system approach, which is frequently advocated for management problems in public administration.
In the process approach the "stream" is chosen as the starting point for analysis; in the system approach systems are the starting points. The examples in the thesis show that analysis starting from systems does not give insight in (management) of separate decision processes. Moreover, the system approach has the problem of the "finiteness or infiniteness of the iteration of levels", a problem that does not occur in the process approach.

Considering the present serious environmental problems, we must realize that decision processes leading to activities and facilities which have adverse effects on the environment are managed and that this management has a strong influence on the outcome of those decision processes and consequently over the environment.

It is recommended to look at this management móre attentively than so far.

With this, attention is called to the next issues:
- it is recommended to use the process approach more frequently in management of the above-mentioned decision processes;
- it is recommended to give more attention to the management of the "stream" under the circumstances of rules and norms, that is to say, to the effectuating and the operational concern in management; with this, one has to be more aware of the many possibilities that can be taken advantage of in management of these decision processes.
There are, for instance, many possible variants with regard to the unilateral or bilateral tuning of decision processes, such as, for instance, informing participants in advance about a decision to be taken and consulting participants;
- it is important that participants (from various organizations, various departments etc.) who are involved in these decision processes are aware of the fact that they may possibly also be participants in the management of these decision processes;
- finally, it is recommended to work out the remaining elements of the conceptual framework, which have not been elaborated in this thesis.
These elements are:
. the fulfilment of the strategic and the conditioning concern;
. a fourth point of application, namely:
the conditions (the "bed") for the managed decision processes;
. a fourth point of orientation, namely:
the social behaviour of and the interactions between the participants during the managed decision processes.

During this study some epistemological problems have been explored. On the one hand, because of the need to situate the conceptual framework for this study in a larger context, on the other hand to get an impression of the problems which might arise, from an epistemological point of view at specifying and filling up/in the conceptual framework, but also when using it.

The conclusion is that the conceptual framework is situated in the paradigm of the process approach; and further, that the conceptual framework can be regarded as a conceptual model of an empirical system, or more explicitly: as a descriptive and final-normative (prescriptive) model, which demands the normative points of departure from outside the framework.

A final remark:
Although the conceptual framework based on the process approach has been applied in this thesis to management of decision processes with regard to facilities which have adverse effects on the environment, it may also be used for making management of decision processes in other fields discussable.

Original languageDutch
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Kampfraath, A.A., Promotor, External person
Award date17 May 1989
Place of PublicationSoest
Publisher
Publication statusPublished - 1989

Keywords

  • public authorities
  • government organizations
  • decision making

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