The Policy Instrument Approaches

Various approaches to the study of public policy have used a ‘tools’ or ‘instruments’ approach to make sense of the complexity of contemporary policy-making. The Tools of Government approach developed by Hood (1983) and later by Hood and Margetts (2007) argues that for any policy problem government has four basic tools at its disposal: nodality, the property of being at the centre of social and information networks; authority, the legitimate legal or official power to command or prohibit; treasure, the possession of money or fungible chattels which may be exchanged; and organizational capacity, the possession of a stock of people, skills, land, buildings and technology. Any policy solution will be composed of some combination of these four tools, each of which has advantages and disadvantages in terms of being more or less expensive or renewable, for example. By treating government as a ‘black box’ and focusing on how it interacts with society, the approach provides a simple and elegant way to think about public policy, but in order to achieve this simplicity requires a radical simplification of core concepts of public policy.