Purpose: This paper aims to critically examine through a knowledge management lens the existing "art" of public policy making, suggesting instead an approach intended to improve knowledge processes and reduce unintended injurious consequences of legislating. Design/methodology/approach: Drawing on pragmatic philosophy and limited government precedents, the authors identify and recommend the implementation of a prospective legislative impact statement requirement by and for the U.S. Congress. They suggest the development and the potential KM utility of the PLIS based on a brief case study of the 2009 American "cash for clunkers" incentive program. Findings: The authors conclude that development and application of such prospective legislative impact statements is feasible and that they may support the statement and testing of dynamic hypotheses relating to the prospective effects of policies under government consideration. Research limitations/implications: Pragmatic knowledge-based scholarship is extended by integrating system dynamics and adaptive management approaches, and it acquires prominent governance relevance through this research. Practical implications: Rigorous integrative government consideration of pending legislation, and ongoing assessment of consequences of enacted laws, could be systematized under this proposal. Social implications: PLIS requirement extends knowledge process over the legislating process, thereby tempering current "legislative art" practices and wisely benefiting the polity. Originality/value: This paper offers a practical solution to a wicked KM problem: improving the quality of knowledge in non-hierarchical policy-making groups, especially those in government. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
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