An Organisational Policy ‘Taxonomy’

In Carrots, Sticks and Sermons – sorting policy types, I outlined a broad range of policy categories. This provided a very simplified view of the various types of policy and policy instruments available for use in divers policy settings.

Excellent analyses of public policy typologies and taxonomies have been catalogued for many years (e.g. in 2003 Howlett and Ramesh identified 64 types of instrument in the economic policy field alone), however, these only seek to categorise government or political policies. They don’t encompass governance and operational policies used by organisations.

I have developed a partial taxonomy of Organisational Policies for use with my non-profit clients. This is quite idiosyncratic, and has not been developed according to the usual academic processes and standards. Nevertheless, as ‘Carrots, Sticks and Sermons‘ remains one of my most frequently viewed articles (even today, three and a half years after it was posted), I am prompted to offer two additional high-level summary charts for reference by non-profit policy workers.

The ‘map’ of broad policy types which appears in the header image seeks to highlight the distinction between Governance and Operational Policies within the Organisational Policy field. It also suggests some clustering of policy sub-types within these categories, although doubtless different sub-types would be required for organisations serving different purposes. For example the types of policies required by a university or school will be quite different to those required by an aid charity, or a professional society promoting ethical interactions with patients or clients.

The chart below, takes the suggested categories and sub-types of Organisational Policy, and offers selected examples of policies likely to be required by most non-profits in each of those areas. You could use this as a checklist if you like, to help you identify policies worth including in your governance/management ‘system of controls‘.

The distinction between governance and operational policies is helpful in organisations with staff. Small volunteer-run bodies may find the distinction less useful. Feel free to adapt the lists to your needs.

Future posts will discuss policy precedents and frameworks, with a view to offering NFP policy authors some structures and resources that may speed up the policy development and approval process.

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