The Science of “Muddling Through”
By Charles E. Lindblom
Public Administration Review, Vol.XIX, No.2 (Spring, 1959), 79-88
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 intellectual capacities and sources of information. He states that this approach is generally not correct for policy analysis, as time and money are restrictions in these scenarios. He also states that public agencies are effectively instructed not to practice the root method, due to political or legal constraints Ironically, the common literature tends to preach formalization of this method. This leads to many practitioners acting against the philosophy commonly published. Lindblom lists the characteristics of the Root approach as the following: * Clarification of values or objectives distinct from and usually prerequisite to empirical analysis of alternative policies. * Policy-formulation is therefore approached through means-end analysis: First, the ends are isolated, then the means to achieve them are sought. * The test of a “good” policy is that it can be shown to be the most appropriate means to desired ends. * Analysis is comprehensive; every important relevant factor is taken into account. * Theory is often heavily relied upon.
As this theory is often discussed, Lindblom assumes it is familiar to the reader and shifts his focus to explaining and clarifying the alternative. Most of the...