by Hakim Khatib
Political rationality as a theory is important in its own right. Government leaders must calculate political costs such as the resources needed to generate support for a policy, the implications of a policy decision for re-election, and the possibility of provoking hostility for decisions not well received. Bounded rationality approach has yielded an enhanced understanding of how government organizations may produce unexpected or even unpredicted policy or program results. With public organizations not operating under full rationality conditions, administrators aspiring toward rationality may nonetheless find their goals undermined by a variety of forces, such as informational uncertainties and non-rational elements of organisational decision-making.
Organisational procedures and constraints may come to shape political attitude and decision making at the highest levels. The theory of rationality, as explained by Anthony Downs, claims that individuals in political and governmental arenas are guided by self-interest as they pursue choices with the highest levels of utility. Government officials and political parties, for instance, seek to maximize support from voters. In his article “A theory of the calculus of voting” for the American Political Science Review, William Riker explained that the focus of political rationality should be on how individuals decide with information available
to them, from knowledge of their own preferences or through the consequences of alternatives themselves. Individuals are assumed to act “as if” they decided according to principles such as utility maximization and the pursuit of self-interest.