A Design Perspective on Policy Implementation: The Fallacies of Misplaced Prescription

Stephen H. Linder, B. Guy Peters


Our argument, stated simply, is that the concentration on implementa- tion has added little to our theoretical understanding of policymaking be- yond the fundamental idea that implementation cannot be taken for granted in a complex policymaking environment. Further, it has normative implica- tions for the conduct of policy analysis which may be highly undesirable. The structure of our argument is built on the contrast between the ap- proach to policymaking implicit in a concentration on implementation and that involved in a more explicit emphasis on policy design. Based on this contrast, we will emphasize a general approach to the design of both policy instruments and their implementation structures which can subsume most implementation analysis. Such an approach will stress a more appropriate concern with the characteristics of policy options and instruments inherent in a design approach (Dryzek, 1983; Linder & Peters, 1984). Our purpose here is not so much to attack and attempt to supplant the implementation focus as it is to build on its insights to develop a more positive approach to policymaking. 


policy design, implementation, policy formulation

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@Annual Review of Policy Design ISSN: ISSN 2291-6989