Evaluating the Accuracy of the Kingdon Model in Policymaking

Evaluating the Accuracy of the Kingdon Model in Policymaking





Kingdom identified problem stream as one of the origins of problem. Kingdon argues that through the problem stream, legitimate problems are identified. This mostly occurs when some indicators show that a change is happening. For instance, if the rate of infant mortality is rising, or the costs of social security are risings, it is interpreted that a problem is occurring and there is a need to address it (Cairney & Jones, 2016). In most cases, budgetary issues are identified as main problems which call for consideration of alternatives or review of policies. Apart from certain indicators, focus on some symbols, crises, or events can also lead to the identification of problems. For instance, road accidents can lead to a review of road safety regulations (Cairney & Jones, 2016). Additionally, systems set by governments to monitor the health of its programs can lead to the identification of problems. However, to have policies put in place to solve the problems enough evidence is required.

Policy stream is the other stream identified by Kingdon. The major players here are academics, researchers amongst other specialists. They focus on developing certain alternatives. The interest groups create new ideas, discuss the ideas, and making changes to these ideas. According to Kingdon, this involves a primeval soup where ideas either split, combine, sink or rise depending on popularity (Cairney & Jones, 2016). Within the stream, people engage in debate and discussions to convince others that a particular idea is worth. An agreement is then made on what proposals are prominent compared to others in the proposal list.

The other stream is the political stream. The main actors in this stream are the visible government officials such as the president, the parliament, among others. Rather than coming up with alternatives, the political stream develops agenda items. They form a consensus with the purpose of negotiating and creating concessions for building a coalition. Issues such as national mood which may be being budget conscious, or being in favour of spending can influence political determinations (Cairney & Jones, 2016). Organized political groups can also be a basis for political considerations.

Personally, I believe that problem stream most accurately reflects how and why policies come about. I believe that there must be a prominent problem to call for policy change. Whether its plane clash, frightening and expensive taxi rides, or rise in mortality rate. Unless there is a noticeable problem, there can never be a need for solutions. I believe that policy related to heart failure coverage cannot gain attention unless indicators such as an increase in heart failure incidences, and increased care cost. It is only through such indicators that specialists and those in government can see the need to develop the policies that would address the problem.

The claim that certain issues receive preferential treatment in the problem, policy, and political streams is true. In some cases, some major players in the problem, policy, and political streams, are influenced by a conflict of interest, which drives then into giving preferential treatment to some issues (Beland & Howlett, 2014). For instance, in problem stream, policy developers can opt to publicise some certain kinds of problems and ignore others. In such a case, that particular problem will receive more attention. Within the policy stream, the main players can select one idea among the developed ideas and give its special attention based on their interests (Cairney & Jones, 2016). Additionally, within the political stream, the interests of the main players determines the preference given in the treatment of certain issues. An issue of interest gives policymakers a motive to turn a solution into a policy compared to an issue that may not affect them directly.

Policy practitioners use various tactics within the problem, policy, and political streams to increase the odds that a certain issue is placed on decision agendas (Beland & Howlett, 2014). Within problem stream, policy practitioners ensure that many problems are identified making it challenging to have the most important one attracting required attention. Then, they take advantage of the competition for attention to push their preferred issue making it possible for the issue to be placed on decision agendas.  Within the policy stream, time is usually limited to develop proposed solutions. Policy developers take advantage of this limitation, to force people to make choices among limited solutions even when their preferences are unclear (Cairney & Jones, 2016). The policy practitioners ensure that they provide few solution proposals increasing the chances of placing on decision agendas their preferred solution. 

Within the stream, they also use another tactic to push a certain issue. They develop solutions that are widely-acceptable, then they evaluate the proper time to encourage and influence others to give attention to a given problem (Beland & Howlett, 2014). Within the political stream, policy practitioners use the tactic of waiting for the right and relevant political climate. When the climate is favourable the easily gain attention from major players who then help in placing the preferred issue on decision agendas. Political climate determines whether a given issue is placed on decision agendas or not (Cairney & Jones, 2016). Therefore, choosing the right time for pushing any agenda within the political stream determines its success. The practitioners take advantage of the fact to push certain issues.


Beland, D. & Howlett, M. (2014). The Role and Impact of the Multiple-Streams Approach in Comparative Policy Analysis. Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis, 18:3, 221-       227.

Cairney, P. & Jones, M. (2016). Kingdon’s Multiple Streams Approach: What Is the      Empirical Impact of this Universal Theory? Policy Studies Journal, 44:1, 37-58.