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Policy vs. Programme: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
Policy is a set of principles or rules guiding decisions; Programme is a planned series of activities or events.
Policy vs. Programme

Key Differences

Policy refers to a set of guidelines or rules established by an organization or government to guide decisions and achieve rational outcomes. Programme, in contrast, is a detailed plan of activities designed to achieve specific goals. While policies set the framework for decision-making, programmes outline the steps to implement these policies.
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Nov 13, 2023
Policy often serves as a foundation for organizational or governmental strategies, shaping the overall direction and standards. Programme, on the other hand, details the specific actions, resources, and timelines involved in executing particular initiatives. Policies provide the overarching principles, whereas programmes offer a roadmap for practical implementation.
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A policy is typically more abstract and serves as a guiding philosophy or protocol. In contrast, a programme is more concrete, focusing on the execution of specific tasks and events. While a policy sets out the 'why' and 'what,' a programme defines the 'how' and 'when.'
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Policy can be seen as a decision-making tool that helps in setting priorities and making choices. On the other hand, a programme is an operational tool that facilitates the execution of these choices. Policies provide the criteria for decision-making, while programmes are the vehicles for carrying out these decisions.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 13, 2023
In terms of change, policy changes can lead to shifts in organizational or governmental focus, influencing multiple programmes. Conversely, changes in a programme might affect its specific area or project but do not typically alter the overarching policy. Thus, policies are more about establishing norms, and programmes are about action and execution.
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Comparison Chart

Nature

Abstract principles or guidelines
Concrete plan of actions or events
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Purpose

Guide decision-making and set standards
Implement specific initiatives
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Focus

Establishing norms and criteria
Operational execution and details
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Level of Specificity

Generally broad and strategic
Detailed and tactical
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Change Impact

Influences overall direction
Affects specific area or project
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Policy and Programme Definitions

Policy

A course or principle of action adopted by an entity.
The new environmental policy aims to reduce emissions.
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Programme

A set of planned activities with a specific aim.
The training programme aims to improve employee skills.
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Policy

A plan or course of action, as of a government, political party, or business, intended to influence and determine decisions, actions, and other matters
American foreign policy.
The company's personnel policy.
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Programme

A sequence of operations to be carried out.
The software update includes a new security programme.
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Policy

A course of action, guiding principle, or procedure considered expedient, prudent, or advantageous
Honesty is the best policy.
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Oct 19, 2023
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Programme

An organized list of items or performances.
The conference programme was distributed to all attendees.
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Policy

Prudence, shrewdness, or sagacity in practical matters
It is never good policy to speak rashly.
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Oct 19, 2023

Programme

Variant of program.
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Oct 19, 2023

Policy

A written contract or certificate of insurance.
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Oct 19, 2023

Programme

Standard spelling of program
Our programme for today’s exercise class includes swimming and jogging.
The programme about Greek architecture starts at 9:00 on Channel 4.
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Policy

A numbers game.
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Programme

Alternative spelling of program
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Policy

A principle of behaviour, conduct etc. thought to be desirable or necessary, especially as formally expressed by a government or other authoritative body.
The Communist Party has a policy of returning power to the workers.
It's company policy that all mobile phones are forbidden in meetings.
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Programme

Standard spelling of program
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Policy

Wise or advantageous conduct; prudence, formerly also with connotations of craftiness.
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Programme

That which is written or printed as a public notice or advertisement; a scheme; a prospectus; especially, a brief outline or explanation of the order to be pursued, or the subjects embraced, in any public exercise, performance, or entertainment; a preliminary sketch.
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Policy

Specifically, political shrewdness or (formerly) cunning; statecraft.
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Oct 19, 2023

Programme

An announcement of the events that will occur as part of a theatrical or sporting event;
You can't tell the players without a program
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Policy

The grounds of a large country house.
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Programme

An integrated course of academic studies;
He was admitted to a new program at the university
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Policy

(obsolete) The art of governance; political science.
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Programme

A radio or television show;
Did you see his program last night?
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Policy

(obsolete) A state; a polity.
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Programme

(computer science) a sequence of instructions that a computer can interpret and execute;
The program required several hundred lines of code
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Policy

(obsolete) A set political system; civil administration.
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Programme

A system of projects or services intended to meet a public need;
He proposed an elaborate program of public works
Working mothers rely on the day care program
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Policy

(obsolete) A trick; a stratagem.
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Programme

A series of steps to be carried out or goals to be accomplished;
They drew up a six-step plan
They discussed plans for a new bond issue
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Oct 19, 2023

Policy

(obsolete) Motive; object; inducement.
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Oct 19, 2023

Programme

A performance (or series of performances) at a public presentation;
The program lasted more than two hours
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Policy

(law)
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Programme

Write a computer program
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Policy

A contract of insurance.
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Oct 19, 2023

Programme

Arrange a program of or for;
Program the 80th birthday party
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Policy

A document containing or certifying this contract.
Your insurance policy covers fire and theft only.
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Oct 19, 2023

Programme

A schedule of events or activities.
The festival's programme includes concerts and workshops.
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Policy

(obsolete) An illegal daily lottery in late nineteenth and early twentieth century USA on numbers drawn from a lottery wheel (no plural)
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Oct 19, 2023

Programme

A plan of action to accomplish a specific goal.
The health programme focuses on community wellness.
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Nov 13, 2023

Policy

A number pool lottery
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Policy

(transitive) To regulate by laws; to reduce to order.
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Policy

Civil polity.
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Policy

The settled method by which the government and affairs of a nation are, or may be, administered; a system of public or official administration, as designed to promote the external or internal prosperity of a state.
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Oct 19, 2023

Policy

The method by which any institution is administered; system of management; course.
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Policy

Management or administration based on temporal or material interest, rather than on principles of equity or honor; hence, worldly wisdom; dexterity of management; cunning; stratagem.
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Policy

Prudence or wisdom in the management of public and private affairs; wisdom; sagacity; wit.
The very policy of a hostess, finding his purse so far above his clothes, did detect him.
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Policy

Motive; object; inducement.
What policy have you to bestow a benefit where it is counted an injury?
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Policy

A ticket or warrant for money in the public funds.
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Policy

The writing or instrument in which a contract of insurance is embodied; an instrument in writing containing the terms and conditions on which one party engages to indemnify another against loss arising from certain hazards, perils, or risks to which his person or property may be exposed. See Insurance.
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Policy

A method of gambling by betting as to what numbers will be drawn in a lottery; as, to play policy.
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Policy

To regulate by laws; to reduce to order.
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Policy

A line of argument rationalizing the course of action of a government;
They debated the policy or impolicy of the proposed legislation
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Policy

A plan of action adopted by an individual or social group;
It was a policy of retribution
A politician keeps changing his policies
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Policy

Written contract or certificate of insurance;
You should have read the small print on your policy
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Policy

A set of guiding principles or rules.
The company's privacy policy ensures customer data protection.
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Nov 13, 2023

Policy

A protocol or set of guidelines.
Their refund policy is quite strict.
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Policy

A deliberate plan of action to guide decisions.
The school's bullying policy has been effective.
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Policy

A statement of intent, setting out an approach in a specific area.
The government's housing policy addresses affordability issues.
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

What is a policy?

A policy is a set of principles, guidelines, or rules established by an organization or government to guide decisions and actions.
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Nov 13, 2023

Are policies legally binding?

Some policies may have legal implications, while others serve as internal guidelines without legal enforcement.
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Can policies apply to individuals or organizations?

Policies can apply to both individuals (employees) and organizations (businesses, governments).
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Give an example of a workplace policy.

A workplace policy might outline the company's dress code or code of conduct for employees.
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What distinguishes a policy from a law?

Laws are legally binding and enforceable, while policies are guidelines that may or may not have legal consequences.
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Nov 13, 2023

What is a program (or programme)?

A program is a planned series of activities or initiatives with specific goals or objectives.
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Nov 13, 2023

Can individuals have personal policies?

Yes, individuals may establish personal policies or principles to guide their behavior and decision-making.
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Nov 13, 2023

How is a program different from a policy?

A program involves actions and initiatives aimed at achieving specific objectives, while a policy provides guidelines and rules.
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Nov 13, 2023

What is the purpose of a program?

Programs are designed to implement policies, address issues, or achieve desired outcomes in various fields.
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What is a foreign policy?

Foreign policy outlines a government's approach to international relations and interactions with other countries.
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Nov 13, 2023

What is the purpose of a policy?

Policies are designed to ensure consistency, compliance, and the achievement of specific goals or objectives.
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Nov 13, 2023

Do government policies impact citizens' lives?

Yes, government policies on healthcare, education, taxation, and more can significantly affect citizens' lives.
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Nov 13, 2023

What is a government-sponsored welfare program?

A welfare program provides financial assistance or support to individuals or families in need, such as unemployment benefits or food assistance.
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Nov 13, 2023

Can policies change over time?

Yes, policies may be updated or revised in response to changing circumstances or priorities.
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Nov 13, 2023

Is "programme" an alternative spelling of "program"?

Yes, "programme" is the British English spelling, while "program" is commonly used in American English. The meaning is the same.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 13, 2023

Do programs have a defined timeline?

Yes, programs often have a set duration or timeline for achieving their goals.
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Nov 13, 2023

Are educational programs common in schools?

Yes, educational programs are widespread in schools and can include curriculum enhancements, extracurricular activities, and more.
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Nov 13, 2023

Can you give an example of a health program?

A health program might focus on promoting vaccination, disease prevention, or maternal care.
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Nov 13, 2023

Can programs be adapted or modified during implementation?

Yes, programs may be adjusted based on progress, feedback, or changing circumstances.
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Nov 13, 2023

Are programs evaluated for their effectiveness?

Yes, program evaluations assess whether the intended goals have been achieved and if changes are needed.
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Nov 13, 2023

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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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