Translating national policy objectives into local achievements across planes of governance and among multiple actors: Second-order devolution and welfare reform implementation

Cho, C.; Kelleher, C. A.; Wright, D. S.; et al.
January 2005
Journal of Public Administration Research & Theory;1/1/2005, Vol. 15 Issue 1, p31
Academic Journal
This article is positioned at the confluence of two literatures that deal with policy implementation and intergovernmental relations. We specifically seek to answer the following question: what contextual, attitudinal, and administrative characteristics explain higher level(s) of perceived welfare reform accomplishments in implementing welfare reform in the local setting? We examine county officials' perceived achievement of the primary and secondary policy objectives of welfare reform in North Carolina as our dependent variable. We posit three clusters of variables to explain why North Carolina counties reported differing levels of achievements for welfare reform objectives: (a) professional (expertise, experience, and entrepreneurship); (b) institutional (empowerment/devolution); and (c) contextual (external or environmental control factors). Our findings confirm that national objectives were shifted and implemented with varying degrees of effectiveness across planes of governance and among multiple actors. Perceived effective implementation varies, but it does occur and depends most prominently on two factors: (1) the experience, expertise, and entrepreneurial skills of professionals in the social services networks; and (2) reported increases in authority devolved to local implementation networks.


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