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A Practical Guide for Policy Analysis: The Eightfold Path to More Effective Problem Solving
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A Practical Guide for Policy Analysis: The Eightfold Path to More Effective Problem Solving

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  802 ratings  ·  43 reviews
A clear and effective guide to policy analysis addressing the psychology, as well as the logic, of the analytical process Full of helpful hints, such as warnings about language traps, strategies for economizing on data collection, and checklists for generating solutions, this book is widely used by students, practicing policy officials in government, and professionals in e ...more
Paperback, 149 pages
Published January 7th 2005 by CQ Press (first published January 1st 2000)
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Mike Bularz
Jan 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, bought-online
Had to read this for a class on Policy Analysis, was pleasantly surprised.

Bardach has a writing style that is easy to follow and uses relatively clear logic. The book gives the impression he is a seasoned policy analyst. This "Eightfold Path" guide to comparing and judging policy alternatives will give you an excellent base of (to be followed loosely) steps in which to approach problems in public, nonprofit sector policy as well as private organizations, although the focus is on the former two.
Laila Kanon
Apr 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-non-fiction
This book was a recommended reading for policy analysis paper. It's helpful and readable content for novice.
Feb 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This maybe a premature review. But I think my opinion about it, is set in stone: IT IS AWESOME.
Going to be a bible for the next 10000 years. Read it if youre in any way interested in policy analysis and problem-solving.

Also, it is going to be memorable because my first MOOC is based on this book. #achievementunlocked
Steven Peterson
Jun 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
A brief introduction to policy analysis. Well respected author Eugene Bardach lays out what he calls "the eightfold path to more effective problem solving." This involved steps in the policy analysis process including: defining the proble,m, assembling evidence, constructing alternatives, selecting criteria, projecting outcomes, confronting treade-offs, deciding, and telling your story.

This is a brief book, but serves nicely as a "quick and dirty" introduction to policy analysis.
James Geluso
Jan 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: school
When I hear eightfold I expect it to be a path with eight simultaneous aspects. This is more like an eight-step path.

Aside from quibbling about the name, the method is sound and this book is well-written with effective examples. I don't really know how often I'll refer to it in my professional life, but I'll keep it in my back pocket just in case.
Jul 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is not dry. Yes, it is an instruction book for analyzing public policy but it's so much more! With a bit of candor, and creativity one can apply these rules broader scoped problems, personal conundrums and understanding any kind of complexity of organizations, families or tribes. I love it and will refer to it indefinitely. ...more
Christopher T Galvez
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book cuts out all narrative senarios to give you a concise usable 100 page reference. The utility of the book in application of Policy analysis is surpassed only by its readability. I would be remiss if I didn't mention that there are other policy analysis frameworks of equal or greater value. However, none as concisely and briefly stated as the eight fold path. ...more
Feb 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: tool
I think this one is a fairly good tool book.

The biggest merit will be to equip readers with a analytical mindset. The higlight is the case study (I believe it's part III) of comparing the absolute and additive cost-effectiveness of three different approaches to reduce cocaine assumption. And that's just one part of the metric from the "economy" side. It is also enlightening to see another metric proposed from the perspective of social benefits - the number of cocain related crimes.

Another pleasa
Thomas Bray
My reaction to re-reading this book is difficult to describe. My first introduction to it was during a particularly difficult semester of my graduate poly sci/public affairs program, and this slim volume was our primary text to choosing, launching, finishing, and presenting a capstone project to a local nonprofit organization.

Reading it now, having fled far, far away from my prior designs of working in public policy analysis professionally - I see it as a solid guide to producing persuasive seco
Dec 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Clear, concise, and a useful practical guide for policy analysis. I was surprised at how willing the author was to acknowledge the various constraints on policy analysis; for example, he didn't flinch from describing the likelihood that some parties involved with a policy would likely take a "CYA" approach to questions, and that could be positive or negative for the analysis depending on what aspect of the policy you're studying. He also explains some ways to avoid research pitfalls, especially ...more
Dec 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a textbook and I can't say that I read the entire thing word for word, but I did read a majority of it and took classes where it was the focus text.

It's a foundational book in public policy, in that it provides the framework for a Master's Degree in Public Policy from the UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy, the top ranked public policy school in the country.

The book itself is well written, fairly easy to read and insightful. It's largely for practitioners, but anyone who is interes
Judy  Monchuk
Jul 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fantastic textbook and fabulous resource.
U Berkeley's eight-step process to problem solving is laid out in a clear, easy-to-follow manner. It's written for public policy analysis, but there are a lot of lessons here that can be used by businesses and organizations. Totally recommended.
Stephen Damm
Jan 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I read this book to develop some professional skills. I found the book easy to read and enjoyable. I'll probably come back to it at some point ("flipping through" ebooks is just not that fun, unfortunately).

The "Eightfold Path" as a framework is fine. It's basically the "Scientific Method" taught in schools (define the problem, gather evidence, develop a hypothesis, etc). Names aside, the book explores each step in general terms as well as with specific examples.
Jesse Morrow
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first two parts are a good read of the do’s and don’ts of policy development and writing. But I see the appendices of checklists and writing advice as a place I’ll refer to over and over again in my career (and next semester’s workshop policy writing class).
Feb 11, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A basic, broad overview for for new policy students.
I was excited to read this book, but the structure and development overall is poor. I was not engaged though I am interested in policy development and analysis.
Feb 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Used as a text for my Forest Operations Regulations & Policy Issues class. Great guide for preparing White Papers.
Panagiote Tsolis
May 27, 2020 rated it it was ok
I felt most of what was said was common sense. There were a lot of good examples, but anyone with and professional relationship experience will know most of the book's details. ...more
Julio Santana
May 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
A good and down to Earth guide to policy analysis. At times, it assumes you are a total novice, at other times it assumes some level of knowledge in the field. Regardless, perfect for students.
Fred Rose
When I first read this book last year, I skimmed through it and generally felt it was just another book on a basic problem solving process. However now reading the new edition and having spent a couple years teaching policy students, I am looking at it with a different eye. I am a designer, and have worked in lots of fields, and this book is putting the problem-solving process through the lens of a policy student which they might call the rational process. Public policy doesn't seem to have a st ...more
Feb 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
Neat little guide to crafting policy! Had to read this for a class and am sure I'll be referring back to it repeatedly in the future, it's quite informative and accessible. ...more
Stephanie Murray
Feb 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Not a book I'd ordinarily pick up, but I had to read it for one of my classes. Generally, the book does what it said it would do: flesh out strategies for approaching, breaking down, and comparing policy alternatives in the real world (i.e. the world in which things like political biases, time constraints, limited access to information, etc... abound). It contains some really useful insights into political problem solving. Some of the guidelines are so intuitive and obvious that it's hard to bel ...more
Jul 19, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people concerned about keeping their policy analysis jobs
There is a standard nightmare in teen sit-coms that a protagonist should have a nightmare about showing up to school without trousers. If there were just such a nightmare for a public policy professional, this slim text would be just the cure for such an overactive super-ego.

Put differently (and more clearly), I would choose this book to read if I knew I were starting a public policy job on Monday without any prior preparation. The book is very practically oriented towards the professional prac
Dec 02, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"You should be careful, however, to avoid using the social scientific standard of adequacy for judgments about the realism of a model, for it is quite conservative. In policy analysis the looser, but more appropriate, standard should be whether reliance on a model can lead to better results and avoid worse results than less disciplined guesswork." (49)

"Unlike most social science research, most policy research is derivative rather than original. That is, it is produced by creative play with ideas
Sam Norton
Very comparable to the KKV book on social science research. Bardach presents a very straightforward description of how to conduct policy analysis, including his eightfold path. Again, similar to KKV, but certainly erring more towards using common sense than going for stringent scientific methods. However, as policy analysis and social science research aren't necessarily the same process, I think it's safe to say that the two methods aren't conflicting.

Sep 11, 2015 added it
“A Practical Guide” is well-written book that presents the “eightfold path” model to write a policy analysis paper. Along with the three parts, the appendices are guidebooks for writing a good paper and also getting ideas about public and non-profit stakeholders’ roles. Although the book is a good read for everyone, who would like to delve into policy analysis, it would be specifically valuable for the novices.
Apr 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: students, wonks
Recommended to J by: Cornell College
Shelves: work, read-for-class
I'm definitely going to hang onto this one! This can work both as a textbook for students to read cover-to-cover and discuss, or as a reference for practitioners. It seems like the kind of book that can serve as an inspiration when stuck or as a reassurance when about to try something new. Bardach's text is clear and concise, and the book is organized in a way that is easy to flip around. ...more
Jun 20, 2011 rated it liked it
I usually have a policy against posting work-related books here, but this one might be of general interest. It could basically be a self help book for writing memos. One of the most entertaining academic books I have read in awhile!
Jul 21, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A thorough, yet brief, overview of policy analysis. It started out a bit dry and slow, but as the textbook moved along, it opened up and became a bit more interesting. It's a good starter book on the subject matter. ...more
Sep 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: policy-poli-sci
Truly great operational guide to the nuts and bolts of how to do first rate policy analysis. Should be required reading for all masters level and beyond students in public policy disciplines of any type. Also: Go Bears.
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