Book Analysis: The Science of Muddling Through

1879 words 8 pages
A Summary of:
The Science of “Muddling Through”
By Charles E. Lindblom
Public Administration Review, Vol.XIX, No.2 (Spring, 1959), 79-88

I. Introduction
This article discusses two different strategies for comparing policies. The first strategy, Lindblom entitles Root, or Rational-Comprehensive Lindblom refers to the second strategy as Branch, or Successive Limited Comparisons. After a brief explanation of the two systems, he goes on to argue the superiority of the Branch system over the more commonly discussed Root system II. Root
The Root approach, or Rational-Comprehensive, is best utilized for more simple problems, according to Lindblom, due to the necessitation of massive
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This objective must be defined beyond just describing the actual decision. If administrators cannot agree on the objectives, the Root method offers no test For the Branch method, the test is agreement on the actual policy, which may be possible even when agreement on values has proven impossible. Different ideologies can agree on different policies, even if the agreement is based on different reasoning. Lindblom states that “agreement on policy thus becomes the only practicable test of the policy’s correctness.” The Branch method relies upon agreement whenever possible. d. Non-Comprehensive Analysis
It is impossible to take every important aspect of a problem into consideration unless the problem is very narrowly defined, therefore limiting analysis. Simplification of complex problems is imperative.
Lindblom illustrates that under the Root method, simplification is achieved systematically through limitation of policy comparisons to those policies that differ in relatively small degree from policies presently in effect. It is only necessary to study the aspects in which the alternatives and their consequences differ from the current norm. This limitation reduces the alternatives under consideration and simplifies the investigation of each of these alternatives. It only becomes necessary to study the respects in which the proposed alternative and its consequences differ


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