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This preliminary chapter explores the efforts that have been made to
understand and explain the public policy process. It lays down the conceptual
requirements and theoretical considerations in the study and understanding of
the policy process.

This chapter also takes a look at types of study of public policy making,
the meaning of policy, the aspects of policy, and the policy process model.


At the end of this chapter, the student should be able to:

1. enumerate the types of policy making and the aspects of public policy;
2. define policy and explain the policy process model including the
stages in the policy process;
3. understand the competing policy making models;
4. explain the various steps in developing educational policy; and
5. define the public policy implementation process and explain the
models of public policy implementation.


The scientific study of policy has a long history. People have sought to
apply social science knowledge to problems of government and to influence the
activities and decisions of government in a variety of ways. Individuals such as
Keynes, the Webbs, Karl Marx, Machiavelli and even American president
Woodrow Wilson were involved in the study of policy.

Policy analysts have a myriad of concerns. Some policy analysts are

interested in furthering understanding of policy (analysis of policy), some are
interested in improving the quality of policy (analysis for policy), and some are
interested in both activities. Further, cutting across these are concerns with ends

and concerns with means, with a large group of analysts who are concerned
about both. The typology proposed by Hogwood and Gunn (1981, 1984) points
to seven varieties of policy analysis, illustrated in Figure 1.

Study of Study of Study of E valuation Information Process Policy

content process outputs for policy advocacy advocacy
Analysts as Political actor
political actor as analyst

Policy studies Policy Analysis

(Knowledge of policy and the policy process) (Knowledge in the policy process)

Figure 1. Types of study of policy making (Source: Hogwood and Gunn, 1981)

First, there are studies of policy content, in which analysts seek to describe
and explain the genesis and development of particular policies. The analyst
interested in policy content usually investigates one or more cases in order to
trace how policy emerged, how it was implemented and what the results were.

Second, there are studies of the policy process, in which attention is

focused on the stages through which issues pass, and attempts are made to
assess the influence of different factors on the development of the issue. Studies
of the policy process are interested in uncovering the various influences on
policy formulation.

Third, there are studies of policy outputs, which seek to explain why
levels of expenditure or service provision vary between countries or local
governments. In Dyes terminology, these are studies of policy determination
(1976), studies which take policies as dependent variables and attempt to
understand these policies in terms of social, economic, technological and other

The fourth category, evaluation studies, marks the borderline between

analysis of policy and analysis for policy. Evaluation studies are also sometimes
referred to as impact studies as they are concerned to analyze the impact that
policies have on the population. Evaluation studies may be either descriptive or

Fifth, there is information for policy making, in which data are marshalled
in order to assist policy-makers reach decisions. Information for policy may
derive from reviews carried out within government as part of a regular

monitoring process; or it may be provided by academic policy analysts

concerned to apply their knowledge to practical problems.

Sixth, there is process advocacy, a variant of analysis for policy in which

analysts seek to improve the nature of policy-making systems. Process advocacy
is manifested in attempts to improve the machinery of government through the
reallocation of functions and tasks, and in efforts to enhance the basis for policy
choice through the development of planning systems and new approaches to
option appraisal.

Finally, there is policy advocacy, the activity which involves the analysts
in pressing specific options and ideas in the policy process, either individually or
in association with others, perhaps through a pressure group.


The Oxford English dictionary describes policy as a course of action

adopted and pursued by a government, party, ruler, statesman, etc. It is also
defined as any course of action adopted as advantageous or expedient. Heclo
thinks that policy may usefully be considered as a course of action or inaction
rather than specific decisions or actions (1972).

David Easton notes that a policy consists of a web of decisions and

actions that allocate values (1953, p. 130). A further definition is offered by
Jenkins, who sees policy as a set of interrelated decisions . . . concerning the
selection of goals and the means of achieving them within a specified situation

The attempts at definition imply that it is hard to identify particular

occasions when policy is made. Policy will often continue to evolve within the
implementation phase rather than the policy-making phase of the policy process.


As a course action or a web of decisions rather than one decision, policy

has several aspects, as follows:

First, a decision network may be involved in producing action, and a web

of decisions taking place over a long period of time and extending far beyond the
initial policy-making process may form part of the network.

Second, even at the policy-making level, policy is not usually expressed in

a single decision. It tends to be defined in terms of a series of decisions which,

taken together, comprise a more or less common understanding of what policy


Third, policies invariably change over time. Yesterdays statements of

intent may not be the same as todays, either because of incremental adjustments
to earlier decisions or because of major changes of direction. Experience of
implementing a decision may feedback into the decision-making process. It is
not to say that policies are always changing, but simply that the policy process is
dynamic rather than static and that we need to be aware of shifting definitions of

Fourth, much policy decision making is concerned with attempting the

difficult task of policy termination or determining policy succession (Hogwood
and Gunn, 1984).

Fifth, the study of policy has one of its main concerns the examination of
non-decisions. This is what Heclo and Smith are pointing to in their references to
inaction. Much political activity is concerned with maintaining the status quo
and resisting challenges to the existing allocation of values. Analysis of this
activity is a necessary part of the examination of the dynamics of the policy

Finally, the definitions cited above raise the question of whether policy
can be seen as action without decisions. Can it be said that a pattern of actions
over a period of time constitutes a policy, even if these actions have not been
formally sanctioned by a decision? In this sense, policy may be seen as an
outcome, which actors may or may not want to claim as a consequence of
purposive activity.

Writers on policy have increasingly turned their attention to the action of

lower level actors, sometimes called street-level bureaucrats (Lipsky, 1980), in
order to gain a better understanding of policy making and implementation. In
some instances it is suggested that it is at this level in the system that policy is
actually made. It is important to balance a decisional top-down perspective on
policy with an action-oriented bottom-up perspective. Actions as well as
decisions may therefore be said to be the proper focus of policy analysis.


Models of policy cycles have been developed to assist comprehension of

the complexities of the process of decision-making. The system approach
outlined by David Easton (1953, 1965a, 1965b) has received considerable
prominence. Easton argues that political activity can be analyzed in terms of a
system containing a number of processes which must remain in balance if the
activity is to survive. He employs the paradigm of the biological system, whose

life processes interact with each other and with the environment to produce a
changing but none the less stable bodily state. Easton argues further that
political systems are like biological systems and exist in an environment which
contains a variety of other systems, including social systems and ecological

One of key processes of political systems is inputs, which take the form of
demands and supports. Demands involve actions by individuals and groups
seeking authoritative allocations of values from the authorities. Supports
comprise actions such as voting, obedience to the law, and the payment of taxes.
These are feed into the black box of decision making, also known as the
conversion process, to produce outputs, the decisions and policies of the
authorities. Outputs are distinguished from outcomes, which are the effects that
policies have on citizens. Within the systems framework there is allowance for
feedback, through which the outputs of the political system influence future
inputs into the system. The whole process is represented in Figure 2.

Environment Environment



Support POLITICAL and actions

Environment Environment

Figure 2. A simplified model of a political system (Source: Easton, 1965a)

The main merit of systems theory is that it provides a way of

conceptualizing what are often complex political phenomena. In emphasizing
processes as opposed to institutions or structures, the approach is also useful in
disagregating the policy process into a number of different stages, each of which
becomes amenable to more detailed analysis.

Inspite of its value, the systems model has weaknesses. The following
points of criticism had been raised against it, as follows:

1. Eastons conceptualization of the political system is not accurate

description of the way systems work in practice. The neat logical
ordering of the processes in terms of demand initiation, through the

conversion process to outputs, rarely occur so simply in the practical

word of policy making.

2. The systems framework highlights the central importance of the

conversion process, the black box of decision making, but gives it
relatively little attention by comparison with the detailed consideration
of demands and supports.

3. The system, and in particular the way processes occur within the black
box, may itself be the object of political action. This is what Dror (1986)
called meta-policy. This is concerned with setting and changing the
systems and structures within which the processes that are concerned
with substantive policy outputs occur. Examples of meta-policy
making are the determination of constitutions and the battles for
political power characteristic of nation building or the disintegration of

Stages in the Policy Process

Other authors who do not share Eastons systems framework have also
used the ideas of stages in the policy process for the purpose of analysis. Jenkins
(1978, p. 17) recognizes complex feedback flows and identifies the following


Hogwood and Gunn (1984, p. 4) go further and identify the following:

Deciding to decide
Deciding how to decide
Issue definition
Setting objectives and priorities
Options analysis
Policy implementation, monitoring and control
Evaluation and review
Policy maintenance, succession and termination

Hogwood and Gunns approach goes beyond a simple identification of

stages to suggest actions that they think ought to occur. As such, it offers a
version of the rational model of decision making. The advantage of the stage
model is that it offers a way of chopping up, if only for the purpose of analysis, a
complex and elaborate process.


This topic focuses primarily on policy making, the first of the three major
steps in the policy process, the others being policy implementation and policy
evaluation. The lesson is divided into three (3) major topics, namely: policy
making models, a typology for the analysis of the role of the participants in the
policy process, and steps in developing educational policy.

The controversy about the way policy decisions should be made has been
a dispute between an approach which is distinctly prescriptive rational
decision making theory and alternatives of a more pragmatic kind, which
suggest that most decision making is incrementalist, and that this offers the
most effective way to reach accommodations between interests.

The Rational Model

Decision is a choice between alternatives. Rational choice involves

selecting alternatives which are conducive to the achievement of goals or
objectives within organizations, and that this is of fundamental importance in
giving meaning to administrative behavior. Rational decision making involves
the selection of the alternative which will maximize the decision-makers values,
the selection being made following a comprehensive analysis of alternatives and
their consequences (Simon, 1957).

Simon acknowledges the following difficulties with the rational approach,


1. Organizations are not homogeneous entities, and the values of the

organization as a whole may differ from those of individuals within
the organization. Simons response to this point is to argue that a
decision is organizationally rational if it is oriented to the
organizations goals; it is personally rational if it is oriented to the
individuals goals.

2. It may not make sense to refer to the goals of an organization. General

statements of intention within organizations are implemented by
individuals and groups who often have discretion in interpreting these

statements. Goals in public organizations are policies, and are likely

to be the continuing subjects of dispute and modification. If policy is to
some extent made, or at least reformulated, as it is implemented, then
it may be less useful to refer to an organizations goals than to the
goals of the individuals and groups who make up the organization.

3. The third major difficulty with Simons model of rationality is that, in

practice, decision making rarely proceeds in such a logical,
comprehensive and purposive manner. It is almost impossible to
consider all alternatives during the process of decision. Knowledge of
the consequences of the various alternatives during the process of
decision, and evaluating these consequences involves considerable

4. Simon is arguing for the need to explore ways of enhancing

organizational rationality. The problem lies on how to separate facts
and values, and means and ends, in the decision-making process. The
ideal rational model postulates the prior specification of ends and the
identification of means of reaching these ends. Simon notes a number
of problems with the means-ends schema, including that of separating
facts and values. Simon argues that the means of achieving ends are
not devoid of values, and a way of coping with this has to be found in
decision making. Simons proposed solution is A theory of decisions
in terms of alternative behavior possibilities and their consequences, in
which, the task of decision involves three steps:
a. the listing of all the alternative strategies;
b. the determination of all the consequences that follow upon each of
these strategies; and
c. the comparative evaluation of those sets of consequences.

Rationality has a place in this model, in that the task of rational decision is
to select that one of the strategies which is followed by the preferred set of

Incremental Model

Charles Lindblom, leading exponent of the incrementalist view, is critical

of the rational-comprehensive method of decision making. In its place, he sets
out an approach termed successive limited comparisons, starting from the
existing situation involving the changing of policy incrementally. Braybrooke
and Lindblom (1963) note eight failures of adaptation of the rational

comprehensive model, or as they call it in this context, the synoptic ideal. They
argue that it is not adapted to the following:

Limited human problem-solving capacities.

Situations where there is an inadequacy of information.
The costliness of analysis.
Failures in constructing a satisfactory evaluative method.
The closeness of observed relationships between fact and value in
policy making.
The openness of the system of variables with which it contends.
The analysts need for strategic sequences of analytical moves.
The diverse forms in which policy problems actually arise.

Consequently, decision-making in practice proceeds by successive limited

comparisons. This achieves simplification not only through limiting the number
of alternatives considered to those that differ in small degrees from existing
policies, but also by ignoring consequences of possible policies. Further,
deciding through successive limited comparison involves simultaneous analysis
of facts and values, and means and ends. As Lindblom states, one chooses
among values and among policies at one and the same time (1959, p.82). That is,
instead of specifying objectives and then assessing what policies would fulfil
these objectives, the decision-maker reaches decisions by comparing specific
policies and the extent to which these policies will result in the attainment of

Lindblom argues that incrementalism is both a good description of how

policies are actually made, and a model for how decisions should be made. One
of the advantages of muddling through is that serious mistakes can be avoided if
only incremental changes are made. By testing the water, the decision-maker can
assess the wisdom of the moves he or she is undertaking and can decide whether
to make further progress or to change direction.

Alternative Perspectives on Decision-Making

For Dror (1964), Lindbloms strategy of muddling through more skillfully

acts as an ideological re-inforcement of the pro-inertia and anti-innovation
forces. This strategy is acceptable only if existing policies are in the main
satisfactory, there is a high degree of continuity in the nature of problems and
there is a high degree of continuity in the means available for dealing with

problems. These criteria may be met when there is a large measure of social
stability. But where these conditions do not prevail, and where a society is
seeking to bring about significant social changes, then incrementalism will not be

The alternative to muddling through, suggests, Dror, is not the rational-

comprehensive model, but a normative optimum model which is able to
combine realism and idealism. In broad outline, such a model involves
attempts to increase both the rational and extra-rational elements in decision
making. The extra-rational elements comprise the use of judgements, creative
invention, brainstorming and other approaches. The rational elements involve
not a comprehensive examination of alternatives and their consequences, and the
complete clarification of values and objectives, but a selective review of options
and some explication of goals. Dror suggests an optional method as a means of
strengthening and improving decision making. One of the features of the
method is the stress placed on meta-policy making: that is, policy-making on
how to make policy (1968). There is a need to invest resources in designing
procedures for making policies in order to produce better decisions.

Etzioni (1967) accepts the argument that a series of small steps could
produce significant change, but adds that there is nothing in this approach to
guide the accumulation; the steps may be circular leading back to where they
started, or dispersed leading in many directions at once but leading nowhere.
In place of incrementalism, Etzioni outlines the mixed scanning model of
decision making, a model he suggests is both a good description of how
decisions are made in a number of fields and a strategy which can guide decision

Mixed scanning rests on the distinction between fundamental decisions

and incremental or bits decision. In Etzionis view, fundamental decisions are
important because they set basic direction and provide the context for
incremental decisions. Mixed scanning is an appropriate method for arriving at
fundamental decisions because it enables a range of alternatives to be explored.
Essentially, mixed scanning involves the decision-maker undertaking a broad
review of the field of decision without engaging in the detailed exploration of
options suggested by the rational model. This broad review enables longer-run
alternatives to be examined and lead to fundamental decisions.



Policy making is a process which involves selected politicians, appointed

civil servants and representatives of pressure groups who are able to get into

In the study of policy processes, there has been a long-standing concern to

define appropriate roles for the various protagonists. Simons rational model
envisages politicians making the value choices, forming premises for the more
detailed decision processes to be carried out by officials. In doing this he was
trying to delineate the respective territories of politics and administration. This
may be seen as an attempt to draw a distinction between the policy process and
administration. Simon recognizes that the early-policy-framing-stages of the
policy process inevitably involve more than a politicians input.

Policies are made in a context in which there are contested value systems -
inevitably strongly linked to competing interests which are articulated to
varying degrees by political parties.

Ideology or more loosely the specification of policy goals by (or within)

political parties, whether used symbolically or not, plays an important part in the
rhetoric of policy making being seen as giving direction and purpose to the
activity. These inputs into the policy process will be given the label party

Threads in the policy process

Party Political Bargaining Administrative

Kinds of issue Perceived to have major Affecting powerful Nearly all
distributive consequences interests
Key actors Political parties Pressure groups Civil servants
Stage-space Public Public and Private Private
Key stage-time Early Middle End

There are general ideas embodied in the typology. One is that there are
different kinds of policy. A distinction is drawn between issues perceived to
have major redistributive consequences, in terms of either resources or power,
which include regulatory and constituent policies. It is recognized that it may
not be so much the types of policy per se which are important, but rather the
ways people are affected and the numbers and kinds of people affected. Wilson
(1973) has distinguished concentrated and dispersed costs and benefits.

The other element in the typology is the use of theatrical metaphors,

seeing people as actors and recognizing that there are significant processes
occurring offstage (away from public scrutiny or participation). In addition,
attention is given to the extent to which the process may be seen as going
through a number of stages. The aim is to recognize that there are sequences of
activities and that there are differences in the kinds of actor involved. Hogwood
and Peters (1983) have suggested that policy processes are likely to involve one
of the following, other than simply innovation:

Policy succession involving replacement but with strong elements of

Policy maintenance adaptation or adjustment of policy.
Policy termination when a decision to stop something must also be
seen as deliberate policy change.


Problem Formation and Agenda Setting

According to Pacquing, there are four steps in developing policy. The first
step is problem formation and agenda setting. This is the stage when policy
makers look at the environment for the concerns of the community in order to
address these in formulating policies.

Thinking of ways to ease out problems and to eradicate them may seem
easier said than done. One of the hindrances to finding solutions to the problems
encountered in the educational system is that some Filipinos who occupy
positions of leadership tend to look for solutions to social crises rather than
prevent them from developing. What education leaders should do is to prevent
these problems from further causing serious damage to the image of education.
In this connection, Pacquing cited the policy of DepEd of re-assigning the District
Supervisor from one district to the other. The District Supervisor has to be made
mobile as an effort made by DepEd to address the complaints about the immoral
behavior committed in the area of assignment. Another DepEd finding regarding
the District Supervisor includes graft and corruption while in the field.

Policy makers should also be keen in the institutionalization of planning.

Educational programs or projects for the schools in communities should be first
tried out in a small scale or pilot project to test the viability and gains this can
bring to the people of the community. A rationale for such a scheme is to
minimize cost in terms of funding, materials and efforts expended without
making mention of loss due to the deleterious effects that the project can cause.

Pacquing stressed that it is of necessity that before a policy is made to

require meaningful involvement of the people who will be directly affected by
the policy. This is a practice which requires that affected individuals intelligently
participate in the policy formation in partnership with leaders in order to make
sure that their needs, interest and welfare are represented in the policy.

Finding Reactions of Policy Makers


The second step in policy formulation and agenda setting is to find out the
reactions of those making the policies regarding demands and complaints.

The common reaction of policy makers regarding problems met by the

education sector is displeasure. Some policy makers are displeased especially for
those who aired their complaints regarding the social service-education. The
policy makers should take this as a healthy sign for teachers to express their
gripes at the negotiating table. Dialogue between policy makers and those
affected by the policy should be welcome. Talking out issues vital in the
education system clears out doubts and allows the lines of communication open.
In such a situation a clearer view and understanding of the demands of the
teachers by the policy makers can be made possible. While at the same time the
teachers will have a better grasp of the limits of policy makers in granting
educators demands can be effected.

It has been asserted that such considerate relationship is not the case.
Teachers who expressed their grievances are ignored by leaders in education.
The result of such a situation is for the teachers to make use of the parliament of
the street. What about the teachers who state their demands and who acted as
prime movers to legitimize their complaints-what will be their lot? Will they
become subject to reprisal of their school leaders?

In order to better understand policy formulation in the Philippine reality,

it is important to know and understand the personality of those involved in the
policy formulation. It was asserted that the usual pattern of policy making in
the Philippines is for the educational leadership to make policy decisions
reflective of their personal philosophy to attach credence for their person. On
this basis perhaps it can be surmised that education issues which other leaders in
education are desirous to implement which are beneficial were not carried out
because they got transferred to another place. That the leader of education who
took over swept it aside to put up his own policy. What should have been done
is for the leader who took over to judge objectively whether or not the policies
left behind are advantageous. If they are found to bring benefits they will be
ready for implementation regardless as to whoever will get the honor. What
should be held foremost in the mind of the incoming educational leader is what
good the policy can bring about among themselves, teachers, learners and the
community. This should have been the end in view of any policy formulation.

Maximum community participation and consideration for the greatest

good for the greatest number is an important practice in a democracy. It tends to
iron out problematic areas and to settle relevant issues on a more acceptable
basis with less cost in time and efforts but to redound with great benefits.

Policy Adoption

The third step in policy formulation is policy adoption. At this phase in

formulating a policy, the people involved refine the policy by discarding the less
beneficial ones in favor of the best feasible alternatives possible.

This is the stage in policy formulation wherein informal organization or

outsiders influence the adoption of educational policies. The informal
organization are said to be persons who have close personal relationship with
those who formulate policies. Such personal relationship can affect the policy
decision which will be made. For as long as the policy makers have been
objective in taking into consideration political costs, social costs, cultural costs,
opportunity costs, psychological costs, technological costs and so forth, they can
move for the adoption of the policy. However, if the policy to be adopted had
not taken into account the cost/benefit analysis of the policy the policy is bound
to be questioned as to its intent.

An example of such lame policy is the Magna Carta for Public School
Teachers. The Magna Carta for Public School Teachers should not have been
granted as it can not be implemented. Perhaps the policy makers may not have
thoroughly analyzed and considered the costs/benefits of the policy impeding
its enforcement.

Policy implementation, the fourth step in policy formulation, will not be

discussed here. It is the subject of the next lesson.


This part presents and discusses the following major subject titles, namely:
policy implementation process, models of policy implementation, the nature of
policy rule framework, policy as input or output, and public policy and
accountability. It also proposes a model of the policy implementation process.

In this lesson, the top-down and bottom-up models of implementation are

discussed extensively. The two models are compared in terms of rule policy
framework, how the policy is seen, and accountability.

In the middle of the twentieth century, there was a neglect of the study of
policy implementation. Then, policy implementation was regarded as mundane
and taken for granted. This neglect of the processes by which policies are
translated into action was explained by Gunn (1978) who argued that academics
have been pre-occupied with policy formulation thereby leaving the practical

details of policy implementation to administrators. Implementation is the

process whereby the policy adopted is enforced to attain its objectives.

The policy implementation process starts with the policy standards and
objectives. These policy standards and objectives should be clear, the clearer the
objectives the more effective is the implementation of the policy. Ambiguous
policy standards and objectives may result to conflict in policy implementation
and interpretation.

There are many other hindrances to policy implementation. Faulty

interdepartmental communications may lead to the difficulty in implementing a
policy. The resentment of teachers to be examiners of non-professional
examinations is a case in point. One of the reasons for the teachers displeasure
over this assigned task is that they are not called as examiners in professional
examination. Examiners in professional examinations receive honorarium while
examiners for non-professional examinations do not enjoy the same benefit that
their peers benefit from. Hence teachers repugnance to the task.

Another obstacle in enforcing a policy is the feeling of dislike of people

who are tasked to carry out assignments which do not have to do with their
defined responsibilities. An example is the disapproval to become census
enumerators and election inspectors. Teachers claim that this is not within the
scope of their job as teachers.

Before a policy is implemented the disposition of those who will be

establishing the policy for public observance and those who will be required to
comply with the policy should be taken into consideration and consulted. At the
time when Spanish is a required course in the secondary and tertiary levels of
education to develop among Filipinos the interest and love for the Spanish
language the greater majority of Filipinos do not see the need and use for it in
their daily living. Hence the purpose to implement the policy failed to
accomplish what it ought to achieve. Likewise the failure for this policy
implementation maybe due to the disregard of the feelings and dispositions of
the students who will submit to the requirement including the teachers who will
learn it along with them.

Very important factors which should also be considered in implementing

policies are the existing economic, social and political conditions of the country
at large. A good example is the low take home pay of teachers. Teachers salary
may perhaps be below the poverty level. A condition such as this may breed low
morale among teachers affecting delivery of quality education. Consequently, if
the education that is delivered to the countrys citizenry is of poor quality, we
cannot possibly produce the leaders, the skilled workers and the semi-skilled
workers who will be the backbone of the nation to press the wheel of progress

If economic, social and political conditions are not properly addressed

then educational policy makers in particular and any policy makers in general
remain suspect for not taking into account the significant role and value of
teachers in human resource development for the country. It is lamentable to see
decision makers not having taken teachers interest as a priority in the
formulation of a policy.

communication and
enforcement activities

Policy standards
and objectives

Characteristics of the
implementing agencies Disposition
of imple

Policy resources

Economic, social and

political conditions

The Top-Down Model The policy implementation process

Distinction exists among policy making, policy implementation and the

evaluation of policy outcomes. A model is often drawn which bears some
relationship to Eastons (1965a) portrait of the political process of inputs going
into a decision system and producing outputs. Those who use models of this
kind stress the need to try to disaggregate the decision system so that it is not so
much of a black box. Usually this involves a distinction between policy making
and implementation.

Implementation is defined in terms of a relationship to policy. Hence, Van

Meter and Van Horn define the implementation process as those actions by
public or private individuals or groups that are directed at the achievement of
objectives set forth in prior policy decisions (1975).

Pressman and Wildavsky (1973) argue that if action depends upon a

number of links in an implementation chain, then the degree of cooperation

between agencies required to make those links has to be very close to 100 percent
if a situation is not to occur in which a number of small deficits cumulatively
create a large shortfall. They thus introduce the idea of implementation deficit
and suggest that implementation may be analyzed in this way.

This notion of cumulative deficit has similarities to the approach to the

study of administration developed in the United Kingdom by Christopher Hood
(1976). He suggests:

One way of analyzing implementation problems is to begin

by thinking about what perfect administration would be like,
comparable to the way in which economists employ the model of
perfect competition. Perfect administration could be defined as a
condition in which external elements of resource availability and
political acceptability combine with administration to produce
perfect policy implementation.

Hood goes on to develop an argument about the limits of administration

which focuses not so much on the political processes that occur within the
administrative system as on the inherent limits to control in complex systems.
Hood and Dunsire (1978a, 1978b) are concerned to link organizational theory
with the study of implementation to provide an abstract model of the problems
to be faced by persons attempting top-down control over the administrative
A rather less elaborate and more explicit practice-related version of the
top-down approach is provided in a short article by Gunn (1978), subsequently
elaborated in Hogwood and Gunn (1984), in which ten preconditions necessary
to achieve perfect implementation are set out:

The first five pre-conditions are:

Circumstances external to the implementing agency do not impose
crippling constraints.
Adequate time and sufficient resources are made available to the
Not only are there constraints in terms of overall resources but also, at
each stage in the implementation process, the required combination of
resources is actually available.
The policy to be implemented is based upon a valid theory of cause
and effect.
The relationship between cause and effect is direct and there are few, if
any intervening links.

The other requirements necessary to achieve perfect implementation are:


There is a single implementing agency which need not depend upon

other agencies for success or, if other agencies must be involved, the
dependency relationships are minimal in number and importance.
There is complete understanding of, and agreement upon, the
objectives to be achieved; and these conditions persist through out the
implementation process.
In moving towards agreed objectives it is possible to specify, in
complete detail and perfect sequence, the tasks to be performed by
each participant.
There is perfect communication among, and co-ordination of, the
various elements involved in the programme.
Those in authority can demand and obtain perfect obedience.

Gunns list epitomizes the top-down approach to implementation. It takes

as its central purpose the provision of advice to those at the top on how to
minimize implementation deficit. Policy is taken to be the property of policy-
makers at the top. The issues to be tackled are as follows:

The nature of policy - see that it is unambiguous.

The implementation structure keep links in the chain to a minimum.
The prevention of outside interference.
Control over implementing actors.

There has been a concern to examine how the nature of policy may have
an impact, with attempts to develop Lowis (1972) typologies of policies to
explore how this may influence the implementation process. Hargrove (1983)
argues: It is assumed that it is possible to classify types of policies so that the
categories can be used as basis for predicting the implementation process within
each category. He goes on to amplify this: The plausibility of using a typology
as a point of departure follows from the idea that different kinds of policy issues
will evoke different sets of participants and levels of intensity according to the
stakes presented by the issue. Implicitly this suggests that underlying the
question of whether some kinds of policy may be harder to implement than
others are issues about the probability of outside interference.

Hargrove suggests that redistributive policies are harder to implement

than distributive ones, while the sources of regulatory policies may often rest
upon the extent to which they have redistributive consequences.

Mountjoy and OToole (1979) have linked the theme of policy specifically
with the notion that organizational linkages create hazards for successful
implementation. They identify some policies which avoid these hazards because
of the clarity of their mandates and the security of their resources.

Nixon (1980) has stressed the role of communication. Nixon emphasizes

the importance of clarity and consistency in the communication of policy. Both
the notion of clear communication and the idea of mandate highlight the
significance of an absence of ambiguity and compromise at the policy-making
stage. This may be easier to achieve when conflict of interests is minimal than
when disagreement exists among the various groups affected by a decision.

The Bottom-Up Model

Elmore has coined the term backward mapping, which he defines as:

Backward reasoning from the individual and organizational

choices that are the hub of the problem to which policy is
addressed, to the rules, procedures and structures that have the
closest proximity to those choices, to the policy instruments
available to affect those things, and hence to feasible policy
objectives (1981).

Focusing on individual actions as a starting point enables actions to be

seen as responses to problems or issues in the form of choices between
alternatives. One of Elmores justifications for this approach derives not so much
from a recognition that in many policy areas implementation actors are forced to
make choices between programs which conflict or interact with each other.

The proponents of this approach argue that it is, by comparison with the
top-down model, relatively free of predetermining assumptions. It is likely to
imply assumptions about cause and effect, about hierarchical or any other
structural relations between actors and agencies, or about what should be going
on between them.

The approach is expounded even more forcefully by Hjern and his

associates (Hjern and Porter, 1981; and Hjern and Hull, 1982), who argue for a
methodology in which researchers construct empirically the network within
which field-level decision-making actors carry out their activities without
predetermining assumptions about the structures within which these occur. The
author has added his own support to the methodological argument for this
perspective, arguing as follows:

To understand the policy-action relationship we must get

away from a single perspective of the process that reflects better
the empirical evidence of the complexity and dynamics of the
interactions between individuals and groups seeking to put policy
into effect, those whom action depends and those whose interests

are affected when change is proposed. To do this, we have argued

for an alternative perspective to be adopted one that focuses on
the actors and agencies themselves an their interactions, and for
an action-centered or bottom-up mode of analysis as a method of
identifying more clearly who seems to be influencing what, how
and why (Barrett and Hill, 1981).

What, in many respects, is being emphasized in this more action-centered

type of analysis is that the very things which top-down theorists like Gunn urge
must be controlled are the elements which are difficult to bring under control.
The reality, therefore, is not of imperfect control, but of action as a continuous
process of interaction with a changing and changeable policy, a complex interaction
structure, an outside world which must interfere with implementation because
government action impinges upon it, and implementing actors who are
inherently difficult to control. Analysis is best focused upon the levels at which this
is occurring, since it is not so much creating implementation deficiency as
recreating policy.

Contrasting the Two Perspectives

The table below highlights contrasts between the two perspectives that
tend to lead to them having different preoccupations, and thus in some respects
contribute to situations in which they do not really engage with each other.

Comparing the top-down and bottom-up perspectives

Top-down Bottom-up
Policy rule framework seen
as Rigid Flexible
Policy seen as An input An output
Accountability seen as Deference to a Adaptability to customer/
depending upon legislative process client/regulates needs


It has already been argued that the policy implementation distinction

largely rests upon a capacity in many policy systems to distinguish stages in
the translation of policy into action. These stages involve increasing
concretization of policy from a general commitment to action, through the

formal enactment of a law, to the establishment of a series of guidelines to

implementers, street level interpretations and thus eventually an output.
These stages may be recognized institutionally, in terms of formal rules and
practices about the roles of various organizations in this process. The products
of the stages may have specific legal forms, to which reference will be made in
disputes about the meaning and impact of the policy. Constitutions, of varying
degrees of formality and rigidity, will be likely to embody assumptions about
these products and the legitimacy of the participants who shape them.

In other words, the study of the history of any particular policy is likely to
involve an examination of the following:

Political manifestos.
The responses in the Queens speech at the beginning of a
parliamentary session.
Green and white papers which set out policy objectives in general
Parliamentary debates.
The Bill and subsequent Act which give the policy its primary legal
Regulations enacted after the passing of the Bill.
Circulars, codes and other instructions to officials.
Detailed notes, reports and accounts of working practice.

As suggested earlier, implementation is conveniently seen as involving

the last two or three items in this list.

The central problem is that, while some policies pass out of the legislative
stages with very clear rule structures, enabling implementation deficits to be
easily identified, others are much less fully formed.


It will be clear that, where policy becomes manifest only in the

implementation stage, it must be interpreted primarily as output. Where,
however, policy is identified as input, it is logically the case that there must be
some activity new legislation, or an amendment of some kind of existing
legislation which receives attention. This is essentially a methodological point
about the top-down bottom-up distinction. All the work with a clear top-down
focus concerns how a new intervention is implemented.

The bottom-up approach may also be used to the same end, as in Elmores
backward mapping methodology. But in addition, in some of the bottom-up

studies the focus is simply upon an ongoing activity. Clearly, very many studies
of public policy practitioners concerned with how teachers teach, regulators
regulate and so on operate in this way without needing to raise questions about
whether new interventions from the top have any effect.


Stances on Accountability

A characteristic of the top-down approach to the study of

implementation has been a concern to give advice to top actors about how
they should secure effective implementation. Sabatier and Mazmanian
(1979) are even more explicit in their article, The conditions of effective
implementation: a guide to accomplishing policy objectives. There they
set out the conditions to be satisfied if implementation is to be effective.

Here then is a prescriptive approach to policy analysis which

embodies two cherished values: a liberal-democratic view that policy
should be made by the selected representatives of the people and
implemented in a subordinate manner by public officials; and a view that
rationality in public policy involves goal setting followed by activities in
pursuit of these goals which may be systematically monitored.

Conversely, there is in some of the work of the bottom-up school of

thought an opposite position: that rationality in policy action can only occur
close to the ground and, at that level, real accountability to the people can be

This is obviously a view made more attractive if it is linked with the

enhancement of local and grass-roots democracy. There is no doubt that some of
the passion that has gone into the top-down bottom-up debate is linked to
arguments about the respective roles of central and local government in the
determination of policy.

However, setting on one side of the conflict over where democratic policy
making should occur, we seem, nevertheless, to have a conflict between the
desirability of a prescriptive approach and the reality of the need to recognize
that implementation involves a continuation of the complex processes of
bargaining, negotiation and interaction which characterize the policy-making

Elmore (1978) puts the dilemma like this:


The rationalist critique of the conflict and bargaining

model is that it elevates confusion and mindless drift to the level of
principle, that it provides an easy excuse for acquiescing in results
that satisfy no one, and that it provides us basis for improving the
implementation process. These criticisms are difficult to counter,
except by observing that a failure to understand intricacies of
bargaining is sometimes more costly than a failure to agree on an
objective measure of success.


This chapter laid down the conceptual foundations and theoretical

requirements intended to facilitate easier understanding of the public policy
process. A better grasp of the educational policy process is expected to result

The second part of this chapter explained the two major models of policy
making, specifically the rational model and the incremental model, from which
school managers may select a particular model to adopt in developing policies. It
also discussed alternative perspectives of policy making. This part also
described ways of analyzing the roles of the various participants, whether they
be highly-placed decision makers or street-level bureaucrats, in policy making.
Moreover, it presented in great detail the steps in developing policy from
problem formulation and agenda setting, and finding reactions of policy makers
to policy adoption.

Implementation, an important step of the public policy process, is a major

concern of students of issues and policies in educational management. The third
topic present the policy implementation process and presented two models of
policy implementation, the top-down model and bottom-up model. The learner
was also treated to essays on whether policy is an input or an output and on
accountability in public policy.

Having gone through the lessons on various types of the study of policy
making, the meaning of policy, the aspects of policy, and the policy process
model, you, as student of Policies and Issues in Educational Management, are
now prepared to proceed to the next chapter, i.e. policy making.


Activity No. 1. A policy may emerge out of inaction or non-decision. Do you

agree or disagree to this statement. Explain

Activity No. 2. Interview teachers from various schools and find out the extent of
their participation, if any, in policy formulation in their respective

Activity No. 3. Find out how school managers react to complaints aired by their
subordinates on certain policy matters or issues.

The activities are due on July 31, 2009.