The article concerns the broad range of new strategies and instruments of policy-making emerged during the last twenty years. It prefaces a special issue structured primarily on Italian case-studies and focused on different policy sectors. The contribution aims at introducing theoretical frames and empirical dimensions for policy instruments and it especially entails four different scopes. Firstly, it argues the role of policy analysis on the ground of policy instruments looking at the juridical and economic point of view. Then, it presents the main definitions and the most relevant classifications, especially concerning with approaches on how and why people usually select a policy instrument. Finally, an interpretation of the phenomenon as a case of incoherent pluralism is suggested.