Policy as a Moving Target

A Call for Conceptual Realism

by Bjorn Wittrock, Peter DeLeon

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Abstract

Since the early 1970s, policy scholars have paid great attention to issues of policy implementation, treating it as the "missing link" between policy formulation and results. Most often, policy problems have been seen as static phenomena that can be corrected by carefully specified programs. This paper, drawing upon examples from Swedish energy policy, argues that this is not the case, that political and social conditions are so prone to change that implementation must be a dynamic process if it is to be effective. This has distinct conceptual and practical implications for the study and design of policy implementation.

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