Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias
My “teaser” article in Optimum Online July 2013 to interest potential readers:
Working through these and other citizenship and multiculturalism issues, and living through the contrasting ideologies, evidence base, and risk perception, one ironic shared characteristic between the political and bureaucratic levels emerged: the lack of policy modesty on both sides. Neither fully appreciated the degree of complexity of society, social issues and social policy, particularly for citizenship and multiculturalism, where the federal government is but a minor player in relation to other levels of government, and the wide range of public and private institutions also influence participation in society.
Just as the political level is certain about their policies; the bureaucracy is equally certain about their evidence base. Both sides had to learn to appreciate the strengths of the other. The political level had to learn to appreciate – if not welcome – advice and expertise that identified potential implications of policy changes; public servants had to learn to recognize how extensive political interaction with Canadians helped complement their evidence and expertise.
As noted earlier, getting over the challenge to their expertise, advice and biases was existentialist, demoralizing and even traumatic for many public servants, particularly but not exclusively in multiculturalism. The Kubler-Ross model of grief applied; consciously or not; many had to pass through varying degrees of the denial, anger, bargaining and depression stages. At the same time, the political level grappled with the lack of responsiveness of the public service, perceived at times as arrogance or even disloyalty, in responding to their policy direction and priorities.
Resetting Citizenship and Multiculturalism: Optimum Online Vol. 43 Issue 2 June 2013 (requires free registration):
My excerpt November 2013, from the Anecdote or Evidence chapter, of my book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias: Resetting Citizenship and Multiculturalism, in The MacDonald-Laurier Institute‘s bimonthly publication, Inside Policy. Direct link to November issue (pdf, see page 30 for excerpt below):