Defining Political Will

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Although frequently invoked as a rhetorical tool in political discussions, “political will” remains ambiguous as a concept. Acknowledging the centrality of political will to policy outcomes, the authors propose a pragmatic and systematic approach to definition. This approach facilitates analysis by identifying particular shortcomings in political will. This identification in turn permits the application of appropriate theoretical frameworks from various disciplines and the effective construction and use of ameliorative measures. The authors also address fundamental issues like the specification of contexts. The analytical approach includes a conceptual definition dissected into essential components, along with corresponding means of operationalization and targets for assessment. Among the major definitional components are requirements that a sufficient set of decision makers intends to support a particular initiative and that such support is committed. The latter condition is difficult to ascertain, but various signals, influences, and constraints on action are observable.




Post, Lori Ann, Amber N. W. Raile, and Eric D. Raile. “Defining Political Will.” Politics & Policy 38, no. 4 (August 25, 2010): 653–676. doi:10.1111/j.1747-1346.2010.00253.x.
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