Robust policy design is an activity that is ‘done’ by policymakers; in this paper we look further into how exactly robust policy design is done. We use the literature on strategizing to distinguish various theoretical perspectives on how policy design is done in practice. Moreover, we conducted a survey-feedback study with a group of senior level policymakers to see what they do when ‘doing’ robust policy design, how they think it should be done, and what they think are challenges for doing robust policy design in the context of a public organization. The study shows that although the language of strategy and policy design is rooted in the rational-analytical ‘planning’ approach, other perspectives are in fact more suitable for designing robust policies for deeply uncertain and volatile conditions. Moreover, our study shows that practitioners are well-aware of this bias; they have developed practical ways to combine the rational-analytical approach to design that is expected from them with other approaches for doing design.

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Keywords policy design, robustness, Strategy, strategy-as-practice, survey-feedback
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Journal Policy and Society
van der Steen, M, & van Twist, M. (2018). Strategies for robustness: Five perspectives on how policy design is done. Policy and Society, 37(4), 491–513. doi:10.1080/14494035.2018.1520782