Nowadays, many public professionals face identification problems towards public policies they have to implement; that is, they experience policy alienation. This is troublesome, as for a proper implementation a minimal level of identification with the public policy is required. We conceptualise policy alienation, starting from the sociological concept of alienation and showing how this can be used in the realm of policy implementation. We demonstrate the usefulness of the concept by applying it to Dutch insurance physicians implementing a new work disability law, in a small case study based on content analysis and interviews. We observe that NPM based reform strategies strongly influence policy alienation, due to an as dysfunctional perceived trade-off between efficiency and values like equity and security. Next, role conflicts arising from the implementation and the working environment influences the degree of policy alienation, as well as the democratic legitimacy of the policy.

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Department of Public Administration

Tummers, L., Bekkers, V., & Steijn, B. (2007). Policy alienation of Dutch public sector professionals: an exploratory study. Retrieved from