Part iii: Stages to an advocacy process

There are three general stages of an advocacy campaign:(1)

Stage 1. Unfreezing: creating disequilibrium in the current situation and motivating change.

Stage 2. Moving: developing new proposals based on new information.

Stage 3. Refreezing: integrating the changes made and establishing the new situations developed through the advocacy effort.


Figure 1(2)

3.1 First stage

The objective of this stage for the EO is to develop a feeling of need or stimulus for change. Generally, a strong sense of dissatisfaction with the status quo must be acknowledged before change can happen. The situation becomes ripe for change, as questions are voiced for the first time, problems are exposed, opportunities disclosed, and potential solutions aired. Critical feedback and transparency are important as there needs to be increasing openness as boundaries are being pushed and horizons expanded.

By creating awareness of 'what is' (the status quo) and 'what could be' (the desired future), discussions are facilitated. New facts, data, and alternative interpretations are brought into policy discourse.

The beginning of the advocacy campaign is critical, because it defines the parameters and ownership of the process, both of which tend to persist through the entire process.

At this stage the EO will:

  • Introduce the basic concepts of its proposal.
  • The EO may also introduce information from other states as this is increasingly important in influencing domestic agendas. Resistance to new ideas is weakened by an effective use of international experiences. It can empower the EO to challenge (compete with) prevailing ideas and incentives.
  • The EO develops concrete proposals for change, based on an analysis of the existing issue and a more systematic assessment of options and experiences in other countries.

3.2 Second Stage

The unfrozen system loses its previous inertia and certainty and seeks ways to rectify deficiencies. In order to change, there must be some model of a better way to function or to develop. Mere awareness of the need for a new situation does not guarantee change unless the goals and direction are clear and agreed to by stakeholders. The path chosen must be seen to be achievable and more positive than doing nothing.

At this stage the EO will:

  • Broaden and market its ideas. Its proposals are introduced into a broader arena involving other stakeholders, the public through the media, or political interests.
  • This phase is usually intended to improve the context for political adoption of the proposal by overcoming the monopoly on information by the existing system and by marketing a positive vision of the reform and its benefits.
  • The proposal is critically brought to the political level for consideration and adoption. The product of the political adoption in most countries is, first, adoption of the reform mandate or principles, and, later, adoption of new instruments, such as a law. This phase requires a period of interaction with a broader group of political actors, and often provides opportunities for those against the reform to intervene through lengthy and complex political and legislative procedures.

3.3 Final Stage

Changes are integrated into the policy-making criteria and standard procedures and, at a deeper level, become part of the norms and culture of the setting. Steps need to be taken and resources allocated to make the changes sustainable and to retain the vitality of the system for continuous growth and development.

However, if the public administration is not prepared for growth, the intended transformation will be unsustainable and short-lived. In particular the implementation phase of an agreed reform is a risky phase since attention usually weakens.

(1) Methodology adapted from Kurt Lewin, 1951.

(2) Example adapted from Yiu and Saner, 1997.