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Policy Alienation of Public Professionals: The Construct and Its Measurement


Lars Tummers is assistant professor in public administration at Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands. His research focuses on policy implementation, public leadership and autonomy of professionals. In his doctoral research (2012, awarded with honors), he has examined the problems public professionals experience during policy implementation using the innovative concept of “policy alienation.” In addition to his scholarly work, he works regularly as a management consultant, combining theory with practice.


Currently, there is an intense debate on the pressures facing public professionals during policy implementation. Frequently, professionals have difficulty identifying with new policies, resulting in diminished policy performance. The author examines this problem using the concept of “policy alienation” and develops and tests a scale for its measurement. Policy alienation is associated conceptually with five subdimensions: strategic powerlessness, tactical powerlessness, operational powerlessness, societal meaninglessness, and client meaninglessness. A policy alienation scale was using a survey of 478 Dutch health care professionals implementing a new financial policy, diagnosis related groups. The resulting 23-item policy alienation scale demonstrated good psychometric qualities. A reliable and valid policy alienation scale can help in understanding and enhancing policy performance.