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Public information campaigns as policy instruments


  • Janet A. Weiss

    (Professor of Organizational Behavior and Public Policy in the Institute of Public Policy Studies and in the School of Business Administration at the University of Michigan)

  • Mary Tschirhart

    (Assistant Professor on the Policy and Administration faculty of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University)


Considerable controversy surrounds public information campaigns: government-directed and sponsored efforts to communicate to large numbers of citizens in order to achieve a policy result, or what might be called government propaganda. We analyze the use of campaigns as policy instruments in three ways: (1) effectiveness in achieving substantive outcomes; (2) political benefits for public officials; and (3) consequences for democratic processes. Our review of 100 campaigns from these three perspectives reveals significant advantages and disadvantages of using campaigns in practice. We conclude that the advantages of public information campaigns justify their use as policy intruments when used appropriately and with care to mitigate the disadvantages.

Suggested Citation

  • Janet A. Weiss & Mary Tschirhart, 1994. "Public information campaigns as policy instruments," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(1), pages 82-119.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:13:y:1994:i:1:p:82-119 DOI: 10.2307/3325092

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Gary T. Henry & Craig S. Gordon, 2003. "Driving less for better air: Impacts of a public information campaign," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(1), pages 45-63.
    2. Laurent Van Malderen & Bart Jourquin & Isabelle Thomas & Thomas Vanoutrive & Ann Verhetsel & Frank Witlox, 2011. "Employer Mobility Plans: Acceptability, Efficiency And Costs," ERSA conference papers ersa10p291, European Regional Science Association.
    3. Wiser, R. H., 2000. "The role of public policy in emerging green power markets: an analysis of marketer preferences," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 177-212, June.
    4. Etienne, Julien, 2010. "The impact of regulatory policy on individual behaviour: a goal framing theory approach," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 36541, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    5. Chung, Younshik & Kim, Hyun, 2015. "Deep subterranean railway system: Acceptability assessment of the public discourse in the Seoul Metropolitan Area of South Korea," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 82-94.
    6. Bonnet, Céline & Réquillart, Vincent, 2013. "Tax incidence with strategic firms in the soft drink market," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 77-88.
    7. Michael Howlett, 2014. "From the ‘old’ to the ‘new’ policy design: design thinking beyond markets and collaborative governance," Policy Sciences, Springer;Society of Policy Sciences, vol. 47(3), pages 187-207, September.
    8. repec:gam:jscscx:v:6:y:2017:i:4:p:138-:d:118345 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Bonnet, Céline & Réquillart, Vincent, 2011. "Strategic Pricing and Health Price Policies," IDEI Working Papers 671, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse, revised Jul 2012.

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