Policy Implementation: Integral or Discrete Activity?

Topics: Policy, Top-down and bottom-up design, Implementation Pages: 7 (2970 words) Published: April 16, 2014
Retrospectively, policy implementation was seen to be less problematic and for that matter minimal academic attention was allocated to the implementation stage in policy making (Dorey 2005; Fixsen et al 2005; Exworthy and Powell 2004,). However practical experiences led to the realization of how policy implementation shapes and determines policy success or failure and from the 1970s, implementation’s relevance and influence on policy making were increasingly witnessed (Dorey 2005). Over the past two decades, literature on implementation comprises the synthesization of existing literature and the revisiting of older ones where an epitome has been the success or failure of policy implementation. Buck et al (1993), Matland (1995), Ryan (1995) to mention a few, give vivid evidence to this approach (Schofield 2004). Some Major themes have been inferred from within policy implementation literature, the first has been the development of analytical models which has resulted in the building of generation models. Second major theme in the study of this literature has been the various approaches employed in the study of public policy implementation, referred to as “top-down” or “bottom-up” approach. The third theme has been on the search of key implementation variables (ibid). The paper considers the second theme above, as in public policy implementation as a “discrete phenomenon” versus “integration into policy process” which is purely the archetype of the polarized concept of implementation process: top-down versus bottom-up (Hall 2009; Dorey 2005; Barret 2004). After defining terminologies where public policy implementation is the main variable to be defined, “discrete activity”/top-down and “integrated”/bottom-up approach archetypes, will be discussed followed by two case studies from Ghana in health, and environmental and resource policies. Final part is the conclusion to the “preferability” question to implementation approach which this paper sought to answer. Definition of terms

Implementation in the context of policy making has been the relationship between two public policy variables, though these variables have been named names, they all give the same meaning. Example, relationship between “policy and action”; “program and practice; “state promises and state product” (see Hall 2009; Fixsen 2005; Schofield 2004) “goals and outcomes” and so on. There is a channel and causality between these two aforementioned variables in the policy implementation concept since policy is not “self-implemented” (Barrett and Fudge 1981), the verbs, ability, process, activities through which the first variables are translated into the second variables are common in definitions of implementation. In this way policy implementation generally, is the ability or processes of converting policy, program, state promises and goals into action, practices, state product and outcomes (Hall 2009; Fixsen 2005; Schofield 2004). As policies and policy implementation are not phenomenon exclusively attributable to government, Implementation literature has carved the dichotomy between business policy implementation and public policy implementation which occurs in private and public/government sector respectively. However Hall (2009) dismisses this implementation divide as being highly artificial both theoretically and empirically, this is so because there are state own enterprises that bare private sector characteristics and also the public-private-partnerships initiative or agreement in recent projects and programs implementation, a pillar in the “new public management” concept also validate the inseparability of this dichotomy. Some working definition for policy implementation can infer from O’toole (2000) Mazmanian and Sabatier (1983) and Pressman and Wildavsky (1979) as: “what develops between the establishment of an apparent intention on the part of government to do something or to stop doing something, and the ultimate impact in the world of...
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