What is/are the difference(s) between policy and decision?

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Lorraine Caplan | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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A policy is a collection of ideas that, stated in combination, is meant to express broad goals or standards, while a decision, when stated and with the proper authority, is meant to initiate or implement an action to help see the policy goals met.  In education, an example might be to have a zero-tolerance policy on illegal drugs.  Decisions made to carry out that policy would include the searching of lockers and suspension or expulsion for student drug-users.  In governance, the government might have a policy of wanting to provide a safety net for the poor.  A decision to implement this would be to decide that those who make less than twice the poverty level will receive housing subsidies, medical care, and cash assistance.  In business, a company might have a policy of promotion from within and implement the policy each time it decides to promote a particular employee in this manner or by simply deciding that internal applicants get an extra ten points in the process.  Policies tend to be somewhat broad and general, while decisions require a specific action.