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Many well-intentioned government policies throughout history have led to failures that can be attributed to a lack of understanding of the intended beneficiaries and other stakeholders. Examples include economic policies to prevent price rises, social policies to eradicate harmful behaviors, and misjudgment of societal mood. In many cases, these failures could have been avoided if stakeholders were engaged during the policy design and implementation process.

In our report “Public Engagement in the GCC”, we explore how smart public engagement can be a powerful tool to improve outcomes and prevent unforeseen consequences. We also examine the policy design cycle and how public engagement tools can support policymakers. 

At Oliver Wyman, we follow the Ideal, Possible and Acceptable (IPA) model for policy design, which considers what the government wants to achieve, what is possible given local conditions, and what is acceptable to stakeholders. Achieving these goals requires effective stakeholder engagement throughout the policy cycle.

The mechanisms of public engagement in the GCC

Public engagement can be strategically integrated at different stages of the policy development cycle, depending on the specific challenge or opportunity. It should be part of the process of identifying and prioritizing those challenges or opportunities, and it can play a role in policy formulation and testing to predict the impact on targeted and non-targeted groups. Public engagement is crucial in monitoring and evaluating policy outcomes as well.

Our report examines case studies of various mechanisms and explores their applicability to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The mechanisms include probabilistic citizen panels, town halls, crowdsourcing, design charettes, citizen assemblies, focus groups, deliberative discussion events, referenda, and polling and surveys. Additionally, we explore key factors for successful public engagement, such as effective communication, holistic and consistent engagement, representative recruitment, ensuring safety and security, and leveraging human capital.