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Public Policy and Administration


Ron Hirschbein


Military conflicts have become nonlinear and the interrelated political and socio-economic changes within these conflicts have created new challenges for American policymakers. A tool called Wallis' Propositional Analysis (PA) suggests a new paradigm that includes thinking about complexity and robustness/systemicity in a policy. The purpose of this single case study was to determine how the PA paradigm adds heuristic value to complex policy decision-making. A backdrop of Wallerstein's complexity theory and complex adaptive systems (CAS) guided this study. This study examined policy statements from the Obama administration on the Afghanistan and Pakistan conflicts in late December 2009. Data were coded and analyzed using Wallis' specific methodological approach that includes a systematic analysis of the policy's propositions and complexity and robustness/systemicity. Key findings indicated that the PA paradigm offers a heuristic method for how to think about the interrelated propositions within a policy that reflect the expected changes the policy intends to make. Specifically, this study demonstrated that an interwoven PA structural approach to policymaking affords the policymaker a method to consider the complex and nonlinear changes in the policy environment. By applying the PA paradigm, policymakers can positively impact social change by exploring policy options that consider a range of possible outcomes from the policy proposal, prior to policy implementation.

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