Amber N.W. Raile, PhD
Eric D. Raile, PhD
Lori Ann Post, PhD
Publication Date
Publication Date: 


"Long-term, effective change in complex issue areas typically happens only if the government and key public stakeholders are pushing in the same direction. Political action to address social problems and their deleterious outcomes is not enough to effect large-scale change if opposed or undermined by the public."

This Political Will and Public Will (PPW) toolkit offers an approach "to enacting social change..." through a "systematic assessment of both political will and public will...." The method includes collecting information, choosing tactics and techniques, aligning broad groups of stakeholders for agreement on problem and solution definitions, and unifying understanding of accountability. The PPW approach to social change includes participation and knowledge sharing among stakeholders, collaboration through action research, holistic understanding of dynamic contexts, and consideration of interdependent individuals and systems arising from causes and effects over time.

  • "Political will exists when 'a sufficient set of decision makers with a common understanding of a particular problem on the formal agenda is committed to supporting a commonly perceived, potentially effective policy solution.'
  • Public will exists when 'a social system has a shared recognition of a particular problem and resolves to address the situation in a particular way through sustained collective action.'"

The Executive Summary cites the following as integral to the approach:

  • "The recognition that all these tasks must be carried out in a coordinated way
  • The willingness to integrate ideas and tools from a variety of social and behavioral sciences, including political science, communication, psychology, sociology, business, and economics
  • The recognition of strong context dependence (i.e., places, issues, understandings)
  • An overriding focus on the alignment of problem and solution definitions among stakeholders
  • An argument that mutual accountability is more durable if produced through this approach"

As stated on page 4, tasks include:

"Task 1: Identify key stakeholders in issue area

Task 2: Determine existing problem and solution definitions

Task 3: Align problem and solution definitions, as necessary

Task 4: Build firm commitments and mutual accountability

Tasks 1 and 2 entail measurement of system characteristics, while Tasks 3 and 4 involve persuasion and accountability mechanisms."

Social science methodologies are offered to answer such questions as: who are the key stakeholders; how do they view the problem and potential solutions; how can their views be aligned; and how can mutual accountability be shared to achieve shared goals?

Each task of those listed earlier is organised as to: key questions; targets/goals; task overview; and potential activities and analysis tools. Analysis tools are covered in detail in 8 sections: 

  • Diffusion modeling
  • Integrative negotiation
  • Institutional analysis
  • Issue framing
  • Network analysis
  • Persuasion tactics
  • Primary source data
  • Social marketing

The final section discusses the interdependent nature of political will and public will, with sources referenced following.

Number of Pages: 



The World Bank website, February 11 2017.