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Issue Report

Collection of full-length papers and in-depth analysis of economic and management issues.

The Key Factor Behind Successful Policies-Communications

The Key Factor Behind Successful Policies-Communications

CHOI Sook-Hee

Mar. 5, 2009

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Originally released on December 3, 2008


Communication is becoming an increasingly important method that allows for the successful implementation of government policy. In particular, in times of crisis or when pursuing controversial reforms, the outcome of policy initiatives may largely depend on government efforts to consistently persuade interested parties and their ability to effectively induce voluntary participation.

Seven cases among major policies from past Korean administrations are examined in terms of their success from the perspective of communication. Among them, a "volume-based waste disposal system," a "two-million home construction project," "Incheon International Airport construction project" and the "development of CDMA mobile phone technology" are determined to be positive examples in policy communication. Despite a variety of conflicts that occurred during the process of implementing such policies, goals were attained thanks to smooth communication between internal and external parties concerned. In contrast, policies regarding the "establishment of a nuclear waste dump", the "construction of the Mt. Cheonseong tunnel" and the so-called "Big Deal" - a government-driven scheme to merge ailing conglomerates - ended in failure. Though such efforts were initialized with the public interest in mind, they were eventually defeated primarily due to a lack of effective communication.

Key factors for the success of policies can be divided into "policy design" and "communication." Policy design refers to the development of satisfactory content inherent to the policy itself, in contrast to "communication," which refers to attempts in persuading the general public. To enhance policy-design capabilities, both building consensus from interested parties and promoting feedback throughout the process (policy design, implementation and subsequent?evaluation) should be the government's primary focus. Second, formulating a strategic communication roadmap would be effective also. Third, the government needs to develop a variety of educational programs that promote dialogue among policy makers and those who execute such policies, while encouraging government agencies to participate in joint projects aimed at promoting inter-agency communication.

The policy options available for Japan that will help deter a slide into fiscal crisis are quite limited: increase economic growth potential by promoting an opening of its economy; increase stable tax income by raising consumption taxes; and establish strict controls on social security-related expenditures. Domestic lawmakers' sensitivity toward the voices of people in rural areas, the government's passive attitude and a prevailing sense of protectionism together with the general public's overall negative sentiment towards foreign investment will possibly act as stumbling blocks along the road to market opening.

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