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Top-Down and Bottom-Up Approaches to Implementation Research: a Critical Analysis and Suggested Synthesis

  • Paul A. Sabatier (a1)

This paper first reviews the implementation literature of the past fifteen years, with particular emphasis on the relative strengths and weaknesses of the ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ approaches. It also argues that the 4–6 year time-frame used in most implementation research misses many critical features of public policy-making. The paper then outlines a conceptual framework for examining policy change over a 10–20 year period which combines the best features of the ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ approaches with insights from other literatures.

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Rachelle Alterman (1983). ‘Implementation Analysis: The Contours of an Emerging Debate,’ Journal of Planning Education and Research 3 (Summer): 63–5.

Susan Barrett and Michael Hill (1984). ‘Policy, Bargaining and Structure in Implementation Theory,’ Policy and Politics 12: 219–40.

Tom Davies and Charles Mason (1982). ‘Gazing Up from the Bottoms: Problems of Minimal Response in the Implementation of Manpower Policy,’ European Journal of Political Research 10 (06): 145–58.

Charles Davis (1985). ‘Perceptions of Hazardous Waste Policy Issues among Public and Private Sector Administrators,’ Western Political Quarterly 38 (09.): 447–63.

Richard Elmore (1979). ‘Backward Mapping,’ Political Science Quarterly 94 (Winter): 601–16.

Richard Elmore (1985). ‘Forward and Backward Mapping,’ in Policy Implementation in Federal and Unitary Systems, ed. K. Hanf and T. Toonen . Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff, pp. 3370.

Kenneth Hanf (1982). ‘The Implementation of Regulatory Policy: Enforcement as Bargaining,’ European Journal of Political Research 10 (061982): 159–72.

Benny Hjern and David Porter (1981). ‘Implementation Structures: A New Unit of Administrative Analysis,’ Organization Studies 2: 211–27.

Benny Hjern and Chris Hull (1982). ‘Implementation Research as Empirical Constitutionalism,’ European Journal of Political Research 10 (061982): 105–16.

Richard Hofferbert (1974). The Study of Public Policy. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill.

Chris Hull and Benny Hjern (1982). ‘Helping Small Firms Grow,’ European Journal of Political Research 10 (06): 187–98.

A. G. Jordan And J.J. Richardson (1983). ‘Policy Communities: The British and European Political Style,’ Policy Studies Journal 11 (06): 60315.

Peter Knoepfel (1982b). ‘Implementing Air Quality Control Programs in Europe,’ Policy Studies Journal 11 (09.): 104–15.

Frederick Lazin (1973). ‘The Failure of Federal Enforcement of Civil Rights Regulations in Public Housing, 1963–71,’ Policy Sciences 4: 263–74.

Michael Lipsky (1971). ‘Street Level Bureaucracy and the Analysis of Urban Reform,’ Urban Affairs Quarterly 6: 391409.

Ken Lowry (1985). ‘Assessing the Implementation of Federal Coastal Policy,’ Journal of the American Planning Association, 51 (Summer): 288–98.

Giandomenico Majone (1980). ‘Policies as Theories,’ Omega 8: 151–62.

Paul Sabatier (1980). ‘A Framework of Analysis,’ Policy Studies Journal 8: 538–60.

Paul Sabatier (1983b). Can Regulation Work? The Implementation of the 1972 California Coastal Initiative. N.Y.: Plenum.

L.J. Sharpe (1985). ‘Central Coordination and the Policy Network,’ Political Studies 33: 361–81.

Michael Thrasher (1983). ‘Exchange Networks and Implementation,’ Policy and Politics 11: 375–91.

Donald Van Meter and Carl Von Horn (1975). ‘The Policy Implementation Process: A conceptual Framework,’ Administration and Society 6 (02.): 445–88.

Richard Weatherly and Michael Lipsky (1977). ‘Street Level Bureaucrats and Institutional Innovation: Implementing Special-Education Reform,’ Harvard Educational Review 47 (2): 171–97.

Bjorn Wittrock (1982). ‘Implementation Beyond Hierarchy: Swedish Energy Research Policy,’ European Journal of Political Research 10 (06): 131–43.

Robert Yin (1980). Studying the Implementation of Public Programs. Boulder: Solar Energy Research Institute.

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Journal of Public Policy
  • ISSN: 0143-814X
  • EISSN: 1469-7815
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-public-policy
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