Designing Implementation to Match Policy Situation

A Contingency Analysis of Programmed and Adaptive Implementation

by Paul Berman

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Discusses two methods of implementing policies — programmed implementation and adaptive implementation — and characterizes features of policy situations to use in choosing between the two methods, or designing an appropriate mix of strategies. A programmed approach is appropriate under the following conditions: (1) change in behavior of members required by new policy is marginal, (2) the new technology is certain, (3) members agree on goals and means, (4) coordination of implementing system is tightly coupled, and (5) environment is relatively stable. Adaptive implementation is more appropriate when: (1) the scope of change is major, (2) the technology or theory is uncertain, (3) there is conflict among members on either goals or means, (4) the structure of the institutional setting is loosely coupled, and (5) environment is fluid. The author argues that a programmed approach applied to an adaptive situation exacerbates implementation problems, and that an adaptive approach in a programmed situation can be ineffective.

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