Within policy implementation and street-level bureaucracy research, there is a continuing debate on how to account for the complex, messy, and, sometimes, contradictory implementation of public policies. Frontline workers, such as teachers, doctors, and police, as a consequence of their discretion, play a crucial role in successful policy implementation and the efficient, effective, and responsive delivery of public services. However, in practice, frontline workers do not always act in line with the ambitions of politicians and policymakers. In doing so, they can create major difficulties for governments, democratically mandated to change policy, in making their (new) policies a success.

This book quantitatively investigates how previous policy experiences affect the frontline. Contrary to previous work that mostly has focused on the experiences of frontline workers with specific policies, this study takes into account that policies are not developed in a vacuum. Rather, they build upon each other; a process described as policy accumulation. Based on research on change cynicism, this book argues that frontline workers - as a consequence of continuous policy changes that are sometimes perceived as inconsistent and too frequent - could become indifferent to whatever new policy is introduced, viewing new policies as just the ‘new political flavor of the month’.

As such, this study opens the way for a better understanding of policy implementation failure and success, by showing how frontline workers’ previous policy experiences shape how they perceive and enact new policies. In doing so, this study underscores the importance of alignment between policy makers and policy implementers for successful implementation. The author illustrates the dynamics surrounding policy implementation in the Dutch education sector by combining implementation and street-level bureaucracy theory with detailed empirical analysis.

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A.J. Steijn (Bram) , V.J.J.M. Bekkers (Victor) , L.G. Tummers (Lars)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

van Engen, N. (2019, January 10). How Previous Policy Experiences Affect the Frontline: Understanding implementation success and failure through a general policy alienation lens. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/113840