Abstract: When two policy programs, identical in many important respects, are implemented in the same national context, similar program results would be expected. If this is not the case, an explanation is needed. In this article two Belgian voucher programs are compared: one for household services and one for childcare services. The first program was termed a success while the latter was abandoned after disappointing results. Ideological differences between policy makers at cabinet level are identified as the most crucial factor explaining the contrasting results of the two programs. The failure of the childcare voucher scheme was due to its deeply flawed policy program design, particularly with respect to the implementing structure as well as the needs and demands of the designated target group. This comparative study confirms the usefulness and validity of two well-known theoretical constructs: an integrated implementation model and related statutory coherence thesis. The necessity of more attention to the potential influence of higher-level political-institutional factors and the dynamic interaction between policy formulation/design and policy implementation is one important lesson for contemporary implementation research. Another is that policy instruments per se do not determine policy results. Their role can only be fruitfully analyzed and explained in the context where they are selected and applied.

implementation, policy design, statutory coherence thesis, vouchers
dx.doi.org/10.1080/13876988.2015.1006831, hdl.handle.net/1765/89183
Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis: Research and Practice
Department of Public Administration

Vancoppenolle, D, Sætren, H, & Hupe, P.L. (2015). The Politics of Policy Design and Implementation: A Comparative Study of Two Belgian Service Voucher Programs. Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis: Research and Practice, 17(2), 157–173. doi:10.1080/13876988.2015.1006831