Panel Paper: Timing; Lessons from the Policy-Making Process for the Dutch Housing Sector

Saturday, November 8, 2014 : 10:35 AM
Navajo (Convention Center)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Giap Tan, Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations
Acting at the right moment is important in complex decision-making processes. Much has been written about windows of opportunity to reach a breakthrough. The effectiveness of policy making is not just dependent on the quality of the policy itself, but also on the moment on which it is being put forward. Sometimes it can be better to wait, while at other times it is important to be present or hurry up. Even the outcome of the policy intervention depends on the moment it is being put forward, because the attitude of stakeholders towards the solution and the way they react on it changes over time. Policy making is thus not only about having the right solution, but also about choosing the right moment to bring it up. Timing is an important element in the success or failure of policy making.

Timing is more than just determining the right time to act. A more proactive attitude can be chosen, by creating a momentum. The politics of timing means that it is a strategic tool which is important to be effective in complex networks. Timing is a tool which requires reflexivity from the policy maker. Oversight and insight in network dynamics is needed to determine the right time to act, or the way momentum can be created.

The policy domain studied in this paper is the housing market. The article contains lessons and reflections from a practitioner. Following many large incidents concerning social housing corporations having financial problems, the Dutch government is currently trying to makes changes in the policy and prevent future policy failure. This study describes and analyzes this process, which takes place in a broad Ministerial Committee on the ‘Renewal of Public Values’. This process involves many stakeholders and interests, making it challenging to reach agreements about the renewal of the policy on this issue. The article will reflect on the element of timing in the decision-making process concerning this policy issue. How is attention and support being build, when is it better to wait or to push for a certain issue, when is a certain plan too early or too late?


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