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Public Policy: Implementation Approaches Prof. Basir Chand Sr. System Analyst The Statesman Institute, Islamabad. This article evaluates the pros and cons approaches and implementation strategies of enacted public policies. Implementation failure has more media impact as compare to a success. Failure teaches us more valuable lesson than a success story. Particularly policy failure gives an opportunity to analyze the reasons, for future reference. It might be impossible to attain 100 percentage success rates in achieving the objectives. Therefore many analysts might look implantation impact as relative success as oppose to outright failure. Some scholars argued that success and failure of policy is highly "subjective and reflective" an individual perspective. A specific point of view and multi dimensional reasoning of success and failure, relative perception provides opportunities to learn from the mistake and to establish best practices. A policy scientist can go back to drawing board to make changes and recommendations to change the course.

Synthesis Approach: A top down approach is more useful when goals and objective are clearer and policies are designed in a comprehensive way. A single domain, comprehensive policy and planning a vision and technical skills and extensive pool of resources which are rare in developing countries. Top down approach is good academic exercise but for practical purpose bottom up approach seems to be more feasible in country like Pakistan as long as dogma of mistrust and corruption is attached to center. Local experiences and perspective are important factors, which contribute for success or failure of any public policy. Furthermore, bottom up approach helpful for implementation if objectives are not clear and polices viewed as non-singular domain. By comparing the weakness and strengths of these two approaches, researcher proposed an emerging model as synthesis approach – a "backward mapping" with "forward mapping� mechanisms in it. A good application of synthesis depicted in advocacy coalition framework. This framework lays groundwork for coordination or synthesis between bottom up perspective, a network of community actors, public and private partnership with concern of "bigger picture" perspective and objectives from the top. A bridge between top most design and top down implementers. Advocacy collision framework facilitates in understanding a coalition of multiple actors from variety of institutions, sharing a common set of beliefs and interest, find common ground to work with subsystem, with special focus at implementation phase of policy process1. A refined model is also proposed as a reconciling approach between top down and bottom up, between policymakers and implementers. This method proposes that implementation process can be much smoother through communication and negotiation as oppose command and control. In some instance a "strategically delay" in implementing a policy is more appropriate. For instance if a department needs more clarification, want to seek more support from target population or requires grass root access, pulling up all the required resources and conducive conditions for implantation will result in high probability of success 2. Implementation Approaches Top Down

Bottom Up

Goals are clearly defined Policies are confirmed at a coherent

Goals are loosely defined Policies are independent domains

single domain Policy consist on authorities’ statement Policy designer – allocate the resources in very organized way at each implementation level. A well common cause of interest are exists, at all level A well established structure of command control practical ex is from top to bottom. Require strict adherence to compliance and regulation procedure.

computing for resources. Resources and expertise are not allocated properly. Implementation through communication and compromise. Street Bureaucrat have a latitude in enforcement Accommodate local norm incentive to find common grand in procedural implementation.

Table: 1.1 Table 1.1 summarized the pros and cons of the “bottom up” and "top down" approaches. Implementation stage in policy process is a phase where bureaucratic actors, individuals and institutions either concentrate or relax the law or tight the rule and procedure to slant the outcome. Policy – action relationship – a managerial perspective reflecting a "policy centered" or "top down" approach can be view as an implementer is acting as an agent of policy designer. As this approach demands initiation, influence, confirmation to objectives, coordination and adherence to compliance. 

Does action relationship match the description of real world events?

Policy implementation can be view as transformation of design into action, series of consequential steps, progress, interaction and negotiations between those seeking policy goals and those who actually implanting it. The advantages of “bottom up” and "top down" perspectives and real description, drive us to find common grounds between these two approaches3. A "perfect implementation" requires that a single implementing agency, without or with a least minimal dependency on others, outside institutions and individuals, to execute a policy. This minimal dependency factor might represent no outside administrative oversight, operational dependencies and of course financial freedom. In complex series of events; a procedural linkage, agreements and understanding among participants, greatly affect the rate of success and failure of any policy outcome. Not only United States but also British Government is also losing its capacity as “single actor” as an implementer. The complexity of issues and related programs, and the "number and nature of dependencies" have been substantially increased. It is next to impossible to implement a public program by simply involving a single governmental agency. Due to the complexities of the problems, legality, and encroachment among various organizations, it is hard to imagine, a policy without the involvement of affected citizens, local authorities, boards, commissions and even voluntary groups and organizations 4. Due to these reasons, researchers have suggested that right from the beginning of policy design a "necessary clearness" should be sought at every "decision point". A decision point is a point of engagement of a participant at specific stage, within or outside of concerned agencies. It is further argued that this type of dependency increases the overall performance and probabilities and extremely effect the implementation process 5.

Structural Approach: In addition to these two approaches, other social scientists had contributed a lot to facilitate the understanding of implementation process and tried to correct or explain the gaps in these two above-mentioned approaches.

In this case, from policy implementation point of view, policy design and organizational structure should be study together. The complexity of any policy extends itself beyond the organizational boundaries, in terms of control, pace and expertise. Implementation is perceived as a technical or managerial practice. Our earlier argument suggested us that policymaking process, right from the beginning is iterative rather than a liner process. A continue feedback and back and forth interaction between policy design and implementation is a common phenomena. The structural approach is a relatively hierarchical, representing bureaucratic organization. For its external operation or working environment, the processes are identical to vertical organization. However, when it reaches to policy implementation, more "organic" features are required; less emphasis on hierarchy, more flexibility and adoption to changing environments. To process more information and take action simultaneously demands more organic or less vertical organizational behavior. A possible compromise between bureaucracy and "adhocracy" is a cross section of "horizontal" and "vertical" authorities6. To change into a traditional organizational structure, in any country, in itself is a Pandora Box. We may not comprehend the issues aroused out of this attempt, and it might be beyond the scope of this book.

Procedural Approach: Appropriate procedures and processes are more important in an organizational structure than anything else. Implementation process is heavily dependent on managerial and technical skill. Procedures are introduced to control, set pace, coordinate, scheduling timeline, monitoring progress and management. Procedures define managerial boundaries, control, logical sequence, allocation of resources. These procedures, techniques and tools enhance the probability to move in the right direction, timeline management and anticipate risks 7.

Behavioral Approach: Keep in mind all these organizational structures, policy processes, techniques and managerial tools are as good as underline human beings who are executing them. The competency of human resources is as crucial as the strength of a chain that is used to pull the weight. The chain is as strong and reliable as its weakest link is. Human behavior and attitudes, individual or collectively as a nation, has great impact on implementation process. For any change, moving away from status quo, the range of human reactions varies; active resistance, passive resistance, indifference, passive acceptance or active acceptance. Fear of change represents uncertainty, ambiguity, and people reflect low tolerance for both. For more direct concerns as personal benefits, economic condition, privileges, social status, security and career prospect, reaction is more obvious and certain. In one example, Pakistani Society is more open and receptacles to emerging technology and media; cell phones, cable TV with numerous channels, but completely repulsive on "one dish" marriage party 8. If symptoms and causes of resistance about any policy is understood, the treatment process can be prescribed easily, at least in theory. In design phase and before implementation process an extensive consultancy and communication should occur among all the policy actors and target population to avoid any possible resistance. A full disclosure of information should be provided as early as possible, including concerns, difference of opinions, objectives and logistics. Seek to convince might be more effective approach than command. The war on terror might have positive result if U.S. Administration and coalition partners try to win "hearts and minds" instead relying on their weaponry power. In support to our earlier argument on individual human behavior, let us evaluate the working coordination between two U.S. agencies. It is assumed that U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Defense have a wellestablished structure, procedures, intelligence resources, technical expertise and century old history of joint ventures. American interest in war, in Iraq is severely compromised, along with human miseries of Iraqi people, due to personality clash between head of foreign affairs and the personality leading the Pentagon 9.

Political Approach: The above-mentioned example leads our argument to political approach. Political approach is not limited to party politics. In term of policy implementation, pattern of power use within organization and its influence "over flow" on other organizations and policies need a careful examination. If the policy is not crafted according to the political authority of relevant organization, the probability of success in implementation phase can be drastically reduced. The dominance of a “political will” is “a must” requirement for successful policy implementation. This dominance always prevails regardless it is through coordination, coalition, by partisan, mutual adjustment or through decisive command and control. The success of policy is very much correlated with coherent willingness of dominant groups; an ability of pursuit by coalition partners, within organization or with outside agencies. These inter-agency arrangements are laid down in the chapter of "inter-governmental relations". In any arrangement, participating organizations assert their political jurisdiction and authority, via constitutional discretion or though bargaining in policy process. The inter-governmental coordination, coalition and subordination, and exercise of political will, and jurisdiction might bring repercussions and complications, and worth consideration at or before implementation process. Some policies are completely dependent on political strategy for their successful execution.


A. Sabatier and Hank C. Jenking-Smith, Theories of the Policy Process: “The Advocacy Coalition Framework”, 1999, Waterview Press Oxford, p. 117-159. 2 Malcolm L. Goggin, Ann O. M. Bowman, James P. Lester and Laurence J. O’Toale, Implementation, Theory and Practice: Towards a Third Orientation, 1990. 3 S. Barrett and C. Fudge, Policy and Action, 1981, Methuen, London. 4 Anthony King, The Problem of Overload; Why Brittan Becoming Harder to Govern? BBC Publication, 1976, London, p. 8-30. 5 J. I. Preasman and A. Wildvsky, Implementation,1973, Berkeley University Press, California. 6 S. Davis and P. Lawrence, Matrix, 1977, Addison Wesley, Reading, MA. 7 D. W. Lang, Critical Path Analysis, 2nd Ed., 1977, Holder and Stoughton, London. 8 The number of the users of mobile phone in Pakistan has reached from 0.3 million to about 90 million during the last eight years. According to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), the ratio of mobile phone users all over the country has been increased from 0.22 per cent in 2000 to 54.70 per cent in June 2008. As per PTA, there are 88.1 million mobile phone users out of the country’s population of 165 million while they were 306,000 in 2000. The News, Wednesday, July 23, 2008. - Pakistan is number 5th consumer of cell phones, In Pakistan, total number of mobile subscribers have reached 90 million mark, of “509 persons out of 1000 people. CIA FactBook 2008. 9 Personal difference and conflict between Sec. State Colin Powell and Sec. Defense Donald Rumsfield, over shadowed the war efforts, and severely damaged the coordination among these departments.

Public Policy: Implementation Approaches