The Strategic Perspective and Long-Term Socioeconomic Strategies for Israel

Key Methods with an Application to Aging

by Steven W. Popper, Howard J. Shatz, Shmuel Abramzon, Claude Berrebi, Shira Efron

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Research Questions

  1. What value might Israel gain from bringing a strategic perspective into the consideration of socioeconomic problems?
  2. How is it possible to craft socioeconomic goals in a heterogeneous, modern, developed economy and society?
  3. What are the essential mechanics and roles for bringing a strategic perspective to the consideration of policy in Israel?
  4. How would a strategic perspective provide a means for considering the issue of population aging in Israel?

RAND Corporation researchers provided support to an Israeli government team of high-level officials charged with improving the processes for long-term socioeconomic strategy within the government. This report highlights selected inputs the researchers made to the government team to summarize the essential mechanics and roles for bringing a strategic perspective to the consideration of policy. In doing so, it provides the example of problems associated with an aging population as an illustration of how one can use a strategic perspective in an analysis of policy choices.

Israel will benefit from bringing a systemic strategic perspective into its policy process. The concept is integral to formal strategic planning but distinct; although the latter places emphasis on an output (a strategic plan), a strategic perspective is a process for bringing an analytical element into policy decisionmaking. A strategic perspective helps to bridge not only the gap between a short-term focus and longer-term outcomes but also that across ministerial portfolios and responsibilities.

A strategic perspective typically begins with a vision of what a desirable future state of the world might be. Translating a vision into policy requires an understanding of the challenges to achieving the vision and employing processes for setting specific goals to meet those challenges, identifying indicators to measure both status and progress toward goals, and designing and implementing policy measures that will contribute to achievement of goals.

Key Findings

The Iterative Process of a Strategic Perspective Can Help Israel Shape Policy

  • Israel will profit from bringing a systemic strategic perspective into its policy process. Formal strategic planning places emphasis on an output, while a strategic perspective is a process for bringing an analytical element into policy decisionmaking.
  • Decision and action should be informed by observation and orientation. The circularity of this process suggests the value of having these functions be integral to the institutions involved in decisionmaking.
  • Despite the difficulties, it is possible to make explicit the objectives for socioeconomic policy and use this as a framework for a strategic perspective.
  • A strategic perspective can be obtained by going through a series of steps outlined in the report that not only build on each other but also allow later steps to shed greater light on those that have preceded them.
  • Population aging presents a good example of an "inevitable surprise" for which Israel should now begin to plan and frame government policy.

Recommendations

  • Israel's government should engage in and support processes for encouraging comprehensive thinking, defining what might be acceptable ranges of values for indicators of socioeconomic well-being, horizon-scanning and early warning, and defining and constructing forecasts or framing scenarios designed to inform policy discussions.
  • Achieving this enhanced capacity requires creating a system for an early detection of trends and opportunities; creating government-wide capabilities to weigh potential alternative policies and their likely consequences in advance, which will increase the chances for policy success and reduce the unintended consequences of policy choices; providing the foundation for wider discussions within the government of complex issues that are difficult to conduct on a shorter-term, crisis basis; and establishing processes that assess, on an ongoing basis, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats and feed these assessments back into strategic thinking.
  • Such an approach will not eliminate inevitable policy controversies that arise in a heterogeneous society, such as Israel's. But it will permit greater focus on the issues Israel confronts by creating a more widely shared basis for formulating and discussing alternative actions. This not only could provide more foundation for concerted public action but will allow the government to engage with the people of Israel in a manner that provides more opportunity for sharing insight and concerns and mobilizing consensus.
  • The authors recommend employing versions of the techniques outlined in this report for achieving these goals.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    The Strategic Perspective and Socioeconomic Policy

  • Chapter Three

    Visions, Goals, and Strategic Frameworks

  • Chapter Four

    Measurement and Indicators of Socioeconomic Outcomes in Israel

  • Chapter Five

    Applying a Strategic Perspective

  • Chapter Six

    Scan and List Initial Questions

  • Chapter Seven

    Information-Gathering and Mapping the System: Israeli and International Experience with Population Aging

  • Chapter Eight

    Dynamic Analysis: Focus on Health Care Cost and Dependency

  • Chapter Nine

    Scenario Building: First Simple Steps

  • Chapter Ten

    Moving Toward Strategic Planning and Implementation

  • Appendix A

    Candidate Indicators Within the Balanced Scorecard

  • Appendix B

    Selected Output from the November 2011 Backcasting Workshop

  • Appendix C

    Candidate Policy Actions for Population Aging

This research was undertaken jointly within RAND Labor and Population and the Environment, Energy, and Economic Development Program, a part of RAND Justice, Infrastructure, and Environment.

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