The Funnel of Causality is a model used by theorists in many disciplines, chiefly political science, to explain decision making among large groups of people. When drawn out for visual learners, a funnel of causality looks like this:

        /      |
  \____\/___/  |
   \_______/   |
    \_____/    |
     \___/     |
      \_/      |
"How does this explain anything about decision making?" you ask. Well, to illustrate how the funnel works, I'll use the federal government of the United States as an example. Imagine that the public is the widest part of the funnel, at the top. Below them are congressmen, lobbyists, and other individuals and organizations who represent the public in Washington. At the bottom of the funnel lie executive agencies and ultimately the President of the United States.

So, imagine that the funnel is full of problems and events. These problems and events filter from the public all the way down to the White House, eventually narrowing down to turn into a concrete policy implemented by the President. This policy then goes back around and affects the public at the top of the funnel, much like water being pumped from the bottom of a fountain and sprinkled over the top, so that whatever policies go through the funnel end up affecting the public, which in turn affects policy. And so on, like a perpetual motion machine.

Of course, government is not the only field you can apply this model to. Business can be represented just as adequately, with the consumer population at the top of the funnel and the executives at the bottom. Macroeconomics also lends itself to representation in this fashion: interest rates and money supply tend to dictate themselves.

Like most conceptual models, the funnel of causality suffers from oversimplification. Reality consists of millions and millions of these funnels, all overlapping and feeding into each other. As a tool of analysis, however, it provides great insight into how large organizations make decisions.

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