The Implementation of Public Policy: Still the Missing Link


  • Prepared for presentation at the Next Generation Policy Workshop in Norman, Oklahoma, February 27–29, 2008.


Although theories of public policy and theories of governance both seek to establish relationships between policymaking and its consequences, they do not complement each other very well. Public policy models tend to de-emphasize that which governance theories tend to emphasize: the influence on government performance of implementation, broadly described as the actions taken by those engaged in administration (including managers at all levels, those engaged in service delivery, and third-party agents) after a policy has been lawfully promulgated by elected officials and interpreted by the courts. A comparison of a recently developed theory of public sector performance with several prominent theories of policymaking suggests that multilevel governance theories can supply what continues to be the missing link in public policy theories. At the same time, governance theories might be enriched by the process modeling of public policy theories.