Friday, October 25, 2013

The Policy Implementation Process. A Conceptual Framework”. Administration and Society

A Model of the Policy Implementation Process
Our basic model - as depicted in Figure 3-posits six variables which shape the linkage between policy and performance. This model not only specifies the relationships between the independent variables and the ultimate dependent variable of interest, but also makes explicit the relationships among the independent variables. The linkages included implicitly represent hypotheses which could be tested empirically, assuming that satisfactory indicators could 'be constructed and appropriate data collected. By approaching the problem in this manner, there is greater promise for elucidating the processes whereby policy decisions are carried out than simply by correlating .independent and dependent variables in a relatively unthinking fashion (Van Meter and Asher, 1973). The model has been constructed on the basis of the three bodies of literature cited above, as well as the authors' own research and intuitions about the implementation process. (p.462)

Policy Standards and Objectives
Given our primary interest in the factors that determine  the performance of policy, the identification of performance indicators is a crucial stage in the analysis. Essentially, the performance indicators assess the extent to which the policy's standards and objectives are realized. Standards and objectives elaborate on the overall goals. of the policy decision. They move beyond the generalities of the legislative document to provide concrete and more specific standards for assessing program performance. These standards and objectives are self-evident and easily measurable in some cases. For instance, the Economic Development Administration's Oakland Project sought to create jobs for the unemployed through several public works projects (e.g., the construction of an airport hangar, marine terminal, port industrial park, and an access road to the city's newly  built coliseum) [Pressman and Wildavsky, 1973]. To ascertain whether implementation has been successful, one must determine the number of jobs that have been created, the identity of those who have been hired, and the progress on the related public works projects. (p.462-464)
In most cases it is much more difficult to identify and measure performance. This may be due to the program's breadth or the complex and far-reaching nature of its goals. It may also be a consequence of ambiguities and contradictions in the statement of standards and objectives. It should be recognized that ambiguity in 'standards and objectives may be fostered deliberately by policy makers in order to ensure a positive response on the part of those responsible for implementation at other levels of the organization on the policy delivery system. Yet the study of implementation requires that goals and objectives be identified and measured since "implementation. cannot succeed or fail without a goal against which to judge it " (Pressman and Wildavsky, 1973: xiv). In determining standards and objectives one could use the statements of policy makers, as reflected in numerous documents such as program regulations and guidelines which spell out the criteria for an evaluation of policy performance. In some cases, however, the policy's standards and objectives will have to be deduced by the individual researcher. And one may even wish to use the criteria for evaluation of policy performance provided by clientele groups. Ultimately, the choice of performance measures depends on the purposes for which the research is conducted (Rivlin, 1971; Rossi and Williams, 1972). (p.464-465)

Policy Resources
Policies furnish more than the standards and objectives against which to judge implementation: they also make available resources which facilitate their administration. These resources may include funds or other incentives in the program that might encourage or facilitate effective implementation. (For a more detailed discussion of the utility of incentives, see Levine, 1972, and Schultze, 1969) It is obvious that funds are usually not adequate. In fact, Derthick's (1972: 87) “new-towns" study suggests that the limited. supply of federal incentives was a major contributor to the failure of the program:  “To induce local governments to accept the burden of developing new towns in-town, the federal government had to give them something of value. The President assumed that low-cost surplus land would be available for this purpose, but this assumption turned out to be wrong.” (p.465)
Four additional factors are included in our model: inter organizational communication and enforcement activities; the characteristics on the implementing agencies; the economic, social, and political environment affecting the jurisdiction or organization within which.. implementation takes place; and the disposition of implementers. Each of these factors consists of several variables, some of which will be identified here. (p.465)

Interorganizational Communication and Enforcement Activities
Effective implementation requires that a program's standards and objectives be understood by those individuals responsible for their achievement. Hence, it is vital that concern ourselves with the clarity of standards and objectives, the accuracy of .their communication to implementers, and the consistency (or uniformity): with which they are communicated by various sources of information. Standards and objectives cannot be carried out unless they are stated with sufficient clarity so that implementers can know what is expected of them. Communication within and between organizations is a complex and difficult process. In transmitting messages downward in an organization, or from one organization to another, communicators inevitably distort them-both intentionally and unintentionally (Downs, 1967:133-136). Furthermore, if different sources of communication provide inconsistent interpretations of standards and objectives or if the same source provides conflicting interpretations
over time, implementers will find it even more difficult to carry out the intentions of policy. Therefore, the prospects of effective implementation will be enhanced by the clarity with which standards and objectives are stated and by the accuracy and consistency with which they are communicated. (p.465-466)
Successful implementation often requires institutional mechanisms and procedures whereby higher authorities (superiors) may increase the likelihood that implementers (subordinates) will act in a manner consistent with a policy's standards and objectives. As Neustadt (1960: J8); has observed with respect to presidential directives, orders are not self-executing: they require the presence of an action forcing mechanism. (p.466)
Within the context of a single organization superiors have access to a wide range of such mechanisms.  They have the standard personnel powers: recruitment and selection, assignment and. relocation, advancement and promotion, and ultimately, dismissal. Moreover, they have control over the budgetary allocations of bureaus and field offices which they may inflate or reduce in response to satisfactory or unsatisfactory performance. While they cannot command obedience, superiors have substantial capacity to influence their subordinates behavior.(p.466-467)
In contrast, when we examine the relationships among members of different organization - or among federal, state, and local officials - many of these mechanisms are absent. Schultze (1969: 202) has summarized this condition:
actions cannot be commanded. There is no hierarchy of officials in a single line of command who can be directed toward a set of predetermined objectives. In such cases the careful specification of plans and objectives by a public agency will not suffice to guarantee effective programs. (p.467)

In the context of inter organizational (or intergovernmental) relations, two types of enforcement or follow-up activities are most important. First technical advice and assistance can be provided.  Higher level officials can often do much to facilitate implementation by aiding subordinates in interpreting federal regulations and guidelines, structuring responses to policy initiatives, and obtaining the physical and technical resources required to carry out a policy. (p.467)
Second, superiors (or federal officials) can rely on a wide variety of sanctions-both positive and negative. We can explore this aspect of enforcement by referring back to Etzioni’s (1961: 5-8) distinction between normative, remunerative, and coercive power. Even though the federal government is not a "superior" in its relations with states and localities, by extending the analogy we can use this notion as an ordering device for thinking about inter organizational relations and the role of enforcement. (p.467)
The use of normative and remunerative powers is most common. For example, the federal government seeks to influence state and local activity through the allocation and manipulation of symbolic and material rewards.  One of the most important techniques of federal influence is the socialization, persuasion,  and cooptation of state and local actors. By attempting to build a professional alliance around the organization and its mission, federal officials will try to cultivate allies at the state and local 1evel who will implement their policies willfully. The fragmentation of the federal system adds significance to this technique, since it makes monitoring' effective and oversight virtually impossible (see, for example, Kaufman, 1960; Derthick, 1970; Bailey and Mosher, 1968; and Etzioni, 1965). (p.467-468)
Another way to achieve' influence is to get states and localities to participate in a program. The prospect of receiving federal do~lars is often sufficient to secure their participation and at least implicit acceptance of the objectives of federal policy. This is a significant beginning point. Research has shown that the amount of federal influence over aspects .of a program increases as the percentage of the federal contribution rises (Porter, 1973: 85; Derthick, 1970: 69-70). (p.468)
Finally, federal officials may induce state' and. Local participation and cooperation by rendering valuable services. For example, many grants do this by offering a healthy percentage of program funds for administration at the state and local level; and such crucial support services - technical advice, staff loans, and research - may be offered to participating organizations. (p.468)
Federal officials also have 'more compelling devices at their disposal, which range from gentle to explicit forms of coercive power. A common practice is to require states and localities to draw up elaborate plans for the administration of a federal program. Once these assurances are made, the federal government will allocate funds, on the assumption that they can be withdrawn if the conditions specified in the plan are not fulfilled. Through this device, federal officials seek "compliance in advance" (Derthick, 1970: 209). (p.468)

A simi1ar strategy is to specify conditions and procedural requirements, such as thorough reporting and accounting systems, in the regulations that accompany the acceptance of federal funds. In this manner the federal government hopes to achieve the substantive ends of federal objectives. As Derthick (1970: 200) points out, however, there are dangers in this procedure:
Specificity entails risks. . . .The more specific the language of the federal requirements, the lower the federal capacity to adapt to state peculiarities and the greater the danger that the limitations of federal capacity to compel conformance may be revealed.  (p.469)

Moreover, stringent regulations and guidelines may induce a sort of goal displacement, wherein state and local officials strive to meet federal requirements in order to obtain funds and avoid sanctions, while ignoring the basic mission of the program. (p.469)
Recognizing these problems, federal officials tend to employ more reliable forms of surveillance. Such activities include on-site visitations, program evaluations, administrative and management reviews, audits, and other feedback mechanisms-including reports by nongovernmental advisory committees set up to oversee state, and local governmental units (see, for example, Downs, 1967: 145-153; Blau and Scott, 1962: 170-172; and Kaufman, 1973). Wilensky (1967: 60-61) adds an important caveat, however, on the limitations of oversight: (p.469)
Where field or branch products and local operating conditions vary, surveillance machinery proliferates. Such machinery is often ineffectual-especially where the local people must submit to inspection either by those outside their profession or specially or by those of different ideological persuasions… Where the… doctrinal distance between the inspectors is great, the resulting information blockage may imperil top leaders' awareness of and accommodation to local problems as well as their ability to communicate new goals to local units. (p.469-450)

Perhaps the most threatening form of federal influence is the power to withdraw or withhold funds from states and localities. This is the ultimate weapon in the federal government's arsenal of influence. However, this weapon is rarely used. It may cause embarrassment for all concerned and damage the only ally which the federal government has in the area-the state or local implementing agency. Generally, the federal government negotiates with state and local officials in an effort to attain the greatest possible compliance without withholding funds. Thus, federal officials usually refrain from overt threats which could undermine cooperative relations with implementers and generate congressional hostility-at the expense of program goals (Derthick, 1970: 207-214). A more common practice is the audit exception where certain amounts of money are required to be returned to the federal treasury (see The National Advisory Council on the Education of Disadvantaged Children, 1972, for an example of Office of Education action). Finally, the mere knowledge of the ability of the federal government to withhold funds and the awareness of a regularized process of audit discovery can act as powerful deterrents to errant behavior (errant, that is, from the superior's perspective). (p.470)

The Characteristics of the Implementing Agencies
Numerous factors are included in this component of the model. Students of bureaucratic politics have identified many characteristics of administrative agencies that affect their policy performance. Ripley et al. (1973: to), for example speak of bureaucratic structure as those "characteristics, norms, and recurring patterns of relations inside the executive agencies that have either potential or actual relation to what they do in the way of policy." (p.470)
Like Ripley, we view this component as consisting of both  the formal structural features of organizations and the informal attributes of their personnel. We are also interested in the implementing agency's ties to other participants in the policy delivery system. Without trying to provide an exhaustive listing of these elements we offer the following suggestions of characteristics that may impinge on an organization's capacity to implement policy:
(a) the competence and size of an agency's staff;
(b) the degree of hierarchical control of subunit decisions and processes within the implementing agencies;
(c) an agency's political resources (e.g., support among legislators and executives);
(d) the vitality of an organization;
(e) the degree of  "open" communications (ie., networks of communication with free horizontal and vertical communication, and a relatively high degree of freedom in communications with persons outside the organization) within an organization;
(f) the agency's formal and informal linkages with the “policy making" or “policy - enforcing" body. (p.471)

Economic, Social, and Political Conditions
The impact of economic, social, and political conditions on public policy has been the focus of much attention during the past decade. Students of comparative state politics and public policy have been particularly interested in identifying the influence of these environmental variables on policy outputs (see, for example, Sharkansky, 1967, 1971; Sharkansky and Hofferbert, 1969; Cnudde and McCrone, 1969; Dye, 1966; Hofferbert, 1964). Although the impact of these factors on the implementation of policy decisions has received little attention, they may have a profound effect on the performance of implementing agencies. (p.471)
For illustrative purposes, we propose that consideration given to the following questions regarding the economic, social, and political environment affecting the jurisdiction or the organization within which implementation takes place:
a) Are the economic resources available within the implementing jurisdiction (or organization) sufficient to support successful implementation?
(b) To what extent (and how) will prevailing economic and social conditions be affected by the implementation of the policy in question?
(c) What is the nature of public opinion; how salient is the related policy issue?
(d) Do elites favor or oppose implementation of the policy?
(e) What is the partisan character of the implementing jurisdiction (or organization); is there partisan opposition or support for the poli?
(f) To what extent are private interest groups mobilized in support or opposition to the policy? (p.472)

Each of the components of the model discussed above must be filtered through the perceptions of the implementer within the jurisdiction where the policy is delivered. Their elements of the implementers' response may affect their ability and willingness to carry out the policy: their cognition (comprehension, understanding) of the policy, the direction of their response toward it (acceptance, neutrality, rejection), and the intensity of that response. (p.472)
The implementers understanding of the general intent, as well as the specific standards and objectives of the policy, is important. Moreover, successful implementation may be frustrated when officials are not aware that the are not in full compliance with the policy. We have already dealt with some aspects of this phenomenon. Yet we want to emphasize, that implementers may screen out a clear message when the decision seems to contradict deeply cherished beliefs. Under circumstances of cognitive dissonance (Festinger; 1957), the individual may attempt to bring the displeasing message into balance with his perception of ~hat the decision ought to have been (see, for example,  Wasby, 1970: 98). (p.472-473)
The direction of implementers' dispositions toward the standards and objectives is crucial also, Implementers may fail to execute policies faithfully because they reject the goals contained in them (see, for example, Peltatason, f96l; Dolbeare and Hammond, 1971; Etzioni, 1961; Wasby, 1970; and Derthick, 1970). Conversely, widespread acceptance of the policy's standards and objectives, on the part of those responsible for administering it, will enhance greatly the potential for successful execution (Kaufman, 1960). At minimum, it would seem that share attitudes will make implementation easier. The goals of a policy may be rejected for a variety of reason: they may offend implementers' personal value systems, extra organizational loyalties, sense of self-interest, or existing and preferred relationships. Summarizing this phenomenon, Petrick (1968: 7) has written that it "arises from the fact that human groups find it difficult to carry out effectively acts for which they have no underlying beliefs." (p.473)
Finally, the intensity of implementers' dispositions may affect the performance of the policy. Those holding intense negative preferences may be led to outright and open defiance. of the program's objectives. When this occurs the implementation question may become moot - subordinates (e.g., states and localities) may refuse to participate in' the' program altogether (see Bailey and Mosher, 1968). Less intense attitudes may cause implementers to attempt surreptitious diversion and evasion, a more common pattern (see, for example. Lazin, 1973). In these circumstances one may have to look to the role of oversight and enforcement to explain variations in the effectiveness of implementation. What all this suggests is that the researcher must gather multiple indicators of various elements of the dispositions of policy implementers. (p.473-474)

Hypothesized Linkages between Components of the Model
Although our discussion will be presented in static terms, it is important that the dynamic character of the implementation process be recognized. Factors that may affect the execution of a policy in its initial stages may be of little consequence at a later point in time. Hence, it is vital that the study of implementation be conducted longitudinally; relationships identified at one point in time must not be extended casually to other time periods. With this in mind, let us describe and justify briefly some hypothesized relationships (see Figure 3). (p.474)
The standards and objectives of policies have an indirect effect on performance; what influence this component has on  dependent variable is mediated by other independent variables. Obviously, the delivery of public services will be influenced by the manner in which standards and objectives are  communicated to implementers and the extent to which standards and objectives facilitate oversight and enforcement. Standards and objectives have their indirect impact on the disposition of implementers through inter organizational communication activities. Clearly, implementers respond.  Some policy will be based, in part, on their perceptions and interpretations of its objectives. This is not to suggest that good communication necessarily contributes to a positive disposition on the part of implementers. However, variations in implementers' support for federal policies ultimately, may be explained partially in terms of their understanding and interpretation of these standards and objectives. as well as the manner by which they are-communicated. (p.474)
Standards and objectives also have an indirect impact the disposition of implementers through enforcement activities. They provide the foundation on which superiors can rely in their relations with policy implementers in other organizations. For example, standards and objectives may establish limits on the sanctions that can be employed legitimately by superiors; and they help define the amount of discretion afforded implementing agencies. Where the power to with hold funds is authorized, various forms of coercive power are also possible. Where withholding is not permitted, however, superiors may be forced to rely exclusively on normative and remunerative powers. Enforcement and follow - up activities may alter the dispositions of implementers, causing them to see the advantages of participation, and quite possibly the disadvantages of resisting effective implementation. Alternatively, by employing coercion, enforcing officials can sometimes secure the compliance of implementing officials without affecting their dispositions about the program. For example, the use of audit exceptions can deter implementers from using funds in a manner inconsistent with a program's standards and objectives, even though implementing officials may continue to question their desirability. (p.475)
We posit linkages between policy resources and three other components of the model. The type and extent of resources made available by a policy decision  will affect communications and enforcement activities. Technical assistance and other services can only be offered if provided by the policy decision. Furthermore, vigorous enforcement can be achieved only if the available resources are sufficient to support such activity. Similarly, the disposition of implementers can be influenced directly by the availability of resources. When vast sums of money or other resources are perceived to be available, implementers may view the program with added favor, and compliance may be encouraged by the prospect of receiving a share of these resources. Conversely, support for a program will not be encouraged if implementers perceive that few benefits will be realized by active participation. (p.475-476)
The linkage between resources and the economic, social, and political environment of the implementing jurisdiction (or organization) suggest that the availability of fiscal and other resources may create a demand by private citizens and organized interest groups for participation in and successful implementation of the program. Again, the prospect of benefiting from the program may cause otherwise quiescent groups to press for maximum participation. However, where limited resources are made available, individual citizens and organized interests may choose to oppose the policy on the grounds that the benefits of participation are few compared to the potential costs (e.g., a loss of state or local autonomy, or a restructuring of established relationships. (p.476)
It is also hypothesized that the economic, social, and political environment of the implementing jurisdiction (or organization) will affect the character of the implementing agencies, the dispositions of implementers, and performance itself.  Environmental conditions can have a significant effect on the willingness and capacity of a jurisdiction (or organization) to support well–developed bureaucratic structures, the vitality and expertise found in administrative agencies, as well as the level of political support enjoyed an agency. Environmental conditions will also affect the dispositions implementers. Where the problems to be remedied by a program are severe and private citizens and interest groups are mobilized in support of a program, it is more likely the implementers may accept the policy's goals, standards, and objectives. Conversely, where problems are not severe and organized interests are lined up against a program, implementers may be encouraged to look with disfavor on the program requiring implementation. Environmental conditions may cause implementers to execute a policy without altering their personal preferences about that policy. Implementers desire to minimize public hostility or their ideologically based inclination to be responsive to public wishes may influence their behavior, event tough it may be inconsistent with their own preferences. Finally, these environmental variables are seen as having a direct effect on the delivery of public services. Despite the dispositions of implementers and other forces in the model, these environmental conditions may enhance or place limits on performance. (p.476-477)
Several characteristics of implementing agencies can affect the dispositions of their personal. The nature of the communications network, the degree of hierarchical control, and the style of leadership can influence the individual’s identification with the organization’s goals and objectives, either facilitating of the implementing agency. Dispositions can also be influenced by the agency’s formal and informal ties to the “policy-making” or “policy-enforcing” body (e.g., do they operate at the same level of government? Has an effective alliance been built between higher authorities and implementing officials?) (p.477)
We suggest the possibility of an interactive effect between inter organizational communication and enforcement activities and the characteristics of implementing agencies. Enforcement and follow-up activities can provide the implementing agencies with added vitality and expertise-improving their capacity to execute programs. They can also be a source of political support which can facilitate affective implementation. The nature of enforcement and follow-up activities, including the provision of technical assistance, will be influenced by the characteristics of the implementing agencies. Since many of the enforcement mechanisms available to superiors operating within a single organization cannot be utilized when implementation requires inter organizational or intergovernmental cooperation, the type of power used by superiors (e.g., normative, remunerative, or coercive) will be affected by the formal and informal relationships between the policy-making and implementing organizations. Also, in choosing among alternative methods of enforcement and follow-up actions, superiors can be expected to be sensitive to characteristics of the implementing agencies. Agencies possessing competent staffs and leadership will require different types of assistance than those that are poorly staffed and led. Similarly, implementing agencies with limited' political resources may be more vulnerable to coercive power than agencies that enjoy extensive support among private citizens and public officials. (p.477-478)

Van Meter, Donald S. and Van Horn, Carl E., 1975. The Policy Implementation Process. A Conceptual Framework”. Administration and Society, Vol.6 No.4. London: Sage Publications, Inc.