Governance Priorities in Political Decision-Making: An Analysis of Process-Oriented Goals in Croatian Public Policies

Keywords: governance priorities; process-oriented goals; thematic analysis; Croatian public policies; constitutive, directional, and operational governance


The success of public policies is often judged on the basis of policy outcomes, which implies an assessment of the effectiveness of achieving the expected policy goals and objectives. Nevertheless, an important aspect of public policy, which links societal needs and collective problems on the one hand with policy results
on the other, relates to the governance of the whole process of policy design and implementation. Highlighting the importance of the procedural dimension in the decision-making process and its relevance for policy success, this paper seeks to describe and systemise different types of governance priorities in Croatia. The paper uses a thematic analysis of 11 policy documents, ranging from youth policy and disability policy to education and transport policy, to show that Croatian public policies encompass a whole array of governance priorities. Applying the Multiple Governance Framework offered by Michael Hill and Peter Hupe,
the paper classifies these priorities into 1) fundamental constitutive decisions regarding the basic principles and structures of policymaking, 2) activities which offer guidance on policy formulation, and 3) practical management of the policy implementation phase. Priorities encompassed by Croatian policy documents
are largely dominated by those focusing on operational governance, specifically by goals that aim to create the right conditions and operative procedures for improving policy implementation. Goals oriented toward the management of inter-organisational and interpersonal relations are also very common. Finally, a significant share of the goals relates to the efforts to lay the groundwork for designing new strategic or operative documents, as well as appeals to different levels of authority to follow through on already existing strategic documents. The latter finding suggests implementation gaps and points to the need for further
investigation and improvement of governance capacities within the Croatian executive branch.