Research on policy implementation: Assessment and prospect

Laurence J. O'Toole

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    While policy implementation no longer frames the core question of public management and public policy, some scholars have debated appropriate steps for revitalization. And the practical world stands just as much in need now of valid knowledge about policy implementation as ever. Where has all the policy implementation gone? Or at least all the scholarly signs of it? And why? What has the field accomplished? Should a resurgence of attention to the subject be exhorted? And if so, in what directions? This article considers these questions as foci of an assessment of the state of the field, and the argument reaches somewhat unconventional conclusions: There is more here than meets the eye. While modest to moderate progress can be noted on a number of fronts, an initial assessment is likely to understate the extent of work underway on matters quite close to the implementation theme. Research on policy implementation-like questions has partially transmogrified. One has to look, sometimes, in unusual places and be informed by a broader logic of intellectual development to make sense of the relevant scholarship. Policy implementation work, in short, continues to bear relevance for important themes of policy and management. But some of the discourse has shifted, the questions have broadened, and the agenda has become complicated. Research on implementation, under whatever currently fashionable labels, is alive and lively.
    Original languageUndefined
    Pages (from-to)263-288
    Number of pages26
    JournalJournal of public administration research and theory
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2000


    • IR-1400
    • METIS-100077

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