The political hand: Policy implementation and youth employment programs



Outstanding studies in the past decade have illuminated the sources of ineffective implementation and thus have suggested what not to do. To learn more about what to do, we analyzed a broad range of cases of effective implementation of youth employment programs in eight cities. The goal was to build an impressionistic model of the conditions contributing to flective implementation. We found that executives in the successful programs often acted as “fixers,” repairing the implementation process and protecting and correcting their programs, especially through coalition building and constant intervention in administrative detail. Some executives created patterns of interest convergence among the relevant actors, using incentives to turn mild interests into active support. They thus provided the public sector's missing “political hand,” analogous to the market's “invisible hand.”