Discussion Questions

What’s involved in the policy implementation stage of the public policy cycle?

Cairney defined the implementation component of the policy cycle as: “Establishing or employing an organization to take responsibility for implementation, ensuring that the organization has the resources (such as staffing, money and legal authority) to do so, and making sure that policy decisions are carried out as planned.”

Birkland (2016) has a much more accessible definition as “the process by which policies enacted by government are put into effect by the executive branch in which civil servants and agencies put policy into effect.”

According to Lindquist and Wanna (2015). “The volume and breadth of the policy implementation, policy reform and organizational change literature make it impossible, given our space constraints, to systematically review all of the contributions and provide detailed account of debates and insights (209).”

Indeed. The study of policy implementation is vast, unwieldy and evolving. For our purposes, we will do well to understand enduring concepts and perspectives on implementation, recent developments in the policy implementation literature, the direction in which policy implementation research  and practice is headed.

For this reason Lindquist and Wanna’s (2015) chapter title, Is Implementation Only About Policy Execution? Advice for public sector leaders from the literature  is an article that you should use to respond to this week’s discussion prompts, but this is an article the you should print, save, keep and refer to in your graduate career and policy work.  They have done well in a herculean task to distill the policy implementation literature into an accessible, interesting work that will be helpful in your careers.  It’s a safe bet that most of you taking this course will work in the public sector or, if you opt for private sector employment, you will engage with public sector agents.

For this discussion board:

Read noted economist and public administrator Paul Volcker (2014) raising the alarm about a crisis in governance.  He is calling the public sector to account–calling public sector actors to account for the  current state of governance.

Conduct a high-level overview of Lindquist and Wanna’s (2015) exemplary meta-literature review, paying attention to enduring concepts and perspectives on implementation, recent developments in the policy implementation literature, the direction in which policy implementation research  and practice is headed, as previously mentioned.

In particular, read introductory questions on page 209 and also pages 226-233Pulling it all together: Implications for public sector leaders. It is a rich section that you can retain for your own public sector or public sector allied work.

Respond to the following questions:

1. Top-down and bottom-up approaches are early, foundational perspectives on policy implementation. Briefly explain what each approach entails. Then, comment on others of the Comprehensive and integrative theories and frameworks that emerged to complement these foundational perspectives. There are many, so pick at least two that are of interest to you and explain them.  (for example, backwards mapping, or contingency and implementation)

2. Read Volker’s Vision without Execution is Hallucination   . Discuss the alarm and concern that he raises about impediments to effective governance. What are those concerns? What is he calling  upon public sector actors to do over these concerns for governance?  What are some of the most responsive tools for public sector actors that Lindquist and Wanna outline that could “answer” Volker’s call. Be sure to offer a substantive perspective for full credit.

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