ï½ Implementation: the process by which polices
enacted by government are put into effect by
ï½ The study of implementation: what happens
to a policy after it has been formulated.
ï½ Why study implementation?
ï½ By learning from implementation problems,
policy makers can learn better ways to design
policies in order to achieve their intended
In the past, policy scientists ignored
implementation because they assumed:
â—¦ Policies were implemented with little or no
â—¦ The bureaucracy was a neutral implementer of
Why were these assumptions wrong?
â—¦ Policies are often ambiguous
â—¦ Bureaucrats have (and exercise) discretion
Assert that policy implementation
is best studied by:
1. Understanding the goals and
motivations of high-level
initiators of policy
2. Tracking policy through its
implementation at the lowest
3. Focusing on â€œgapsâ€ between the
policy draftersâ€™ goals and the
actual implementation and
outcomes of policy.
ï½ Policies contain clearlydefined goals against which
performance can be
ï½ Policies contain clearlydefined policy tools for the
accomplishment of goals
ï½ The policy is characterized by
the existence of a single
statute or other statement of
ï½ There is an â€œimplementation
chainâ€ that starts with a
policy message at the top,
and implementation occurs in
a chain (of actors or events)
What are some critiques of
ï½ Policies are often
ï½ Policy is often a collection of
separate (and sometimes
contradictory) statutes and
ï½ Policy implementation
occurs through many actors,
(i.e. it isnâ€™t always a linear
ï½ Policy designer have good
knowledge of the capacity
and commitment of the
ï½ Capacity: availability of
resources for an agency to
carry out its tasks
(including money, human
ï½ Commitment: desire of
implementers to carry out
ï½ What are some critiques
of this assumption?
ï½ Federal policy makers
may not always know
the capacity of state and
local actors (which is
likely to vary across
ï½ Street-level bureaucrats
who do not share the
same goals as policy
makers can use their
discretion to subvert
Assert that policy implementation is best studied
ï½ Understanding the goals, motivations, and
capabilities of the lowest-level implementers
ï½ Following the policy design upward to the
highest-level initiators of policy (â€œbackwardmappingâ€)
ï½ Indentifying where policy implementation is more
successful and less successful
ï½ Goals are ambiguous and
may conflict with other
policy goals, and/or the
norms and motivations of
ï½ Policy can be thought of
as a set of laws, rules,
practices, and norms
ï½ Implementation works
through a network of
ï½ How are these different from
ï½ Clear goals vs. ambiguous goals
ï½ One statute vs. groups of laws
ï½ A linear â€œchainâ€ vs. a network of
ï½ Top-down focuses on
compliance while bottom-up
focuses on alleviating conflict
through bargaining and
ï½ It depends what you are studying.
ï½ Top-down may be better when you are studying
a single, dominant program
ï½ Bottom-up may be better when there is no single
dominant program or when you are interested in
local elements of implementation
ï½ Some scholars suggest both approaches should
be synthesized (i.e. combined with one another).
– From Ingram and Mann,
Birkland text p. 191
ï½ Alternatives to policies
ï½ Impact of changing
ï½ Relationships among
ï½ Political boundaries
ï½ Excessive policy demand
ï½ Realizable policy expectations
ï½ Accurate theory of causation
ï½ Choice of effective policy
ï½ The vagaries of
ï½ Failure of political institutions
ï½ Instrumental policy learning: learning about the
effectiveness of policy tools and interventions
ï½ Social policy learning: Learning about the causes of
problems (including focusing on the social constructions
of problems and how this influences policy design)
ï½ Political learning: learning about making more
effective political arguments in a policy debate (i.e.
learning to be a more effective policy advocate)
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