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Implementing Public Policy

Implementing Public Policy
An Introduction to the Study of Operational Governance

Fourth Edition (Revised Edition)
  • Michael Hill - Emeritus Professor at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne
  • Peter Hupe - Visiting Professor at the Catholic University of Leuven

April 2022 | 304 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

The only book to focus on implementing public policy, this state-of-the-art text offers a comprehensive and lively account of the major insights found in implementation theory and research. Its exploration of the field provides a reflective overview of work in the study of policy implementation worldwide. In doing so, the book reconceptualizes the policy process to highlight the essential role those implementing policy have in moulding, shaping and directing policy during their work.

Realizing policy goals may be the key to ballot box victory, while policies perceived as failures may symbolise declining trust and confidence in government and politics. As such, implementing policy is as crucial to the actors in power as it is for democracy. Policymakers respond to challenging problems in highly dynamic and pressurised contexts. From the global pandemic to climate change, financial regulation to education, effective policy has never been more important to governments and society – and the role of street-level bureaucrats in implementing policy never so crucial.

This is the seminal work in the field, used by thousands worldwide. Now fully revised and updated, the 20th anniversary edition includes substantial changes and additions. This edition features two entirely new chapters on the consequences of populism and the latest street-level bureaucracy research, as well as extensive examination of comparative cross-national work and a refined and more explicit conceptualization of implementation in terms of its role in governance throughout. The book concludes with an all-new chapter exploring emergent issues on implementation in practice and on the research agenda.

The text is essential reading for anyone interested in public policy, social policy, public administration, public management and governance.

PART I: Implementation as a Scholarly Theme
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Implementation Studies Positioned
Chapter 3: The Top-Down/Bottom-Up Debate and Comprehensive Approaches
Chapter 4: Implementation Theory: Constitutive Elements
PART II: Implementation as Government-In-Action
Chapter 5: The Policy-Implementation Paradigm: Historical Evolution
Chapter 6: Implementation and the Rise of Populism
Chapter 7: Implementation and the Quest for Appropriate Action
PART III: Implementation as Object of Research
Chapter 8: Implementation Research as Governance Analysis
Chapter 9: Street-Level Bureaucracy Research and Implementation Theory
Chapter 10: Doing Implementation Research
Chapter 11: The Policy-Implementation Paradigm: Present and Future

This text is essential reading for anyone interested in implementation. Hill and Hupe cover critical debates in their own distinctive voice, but also explore key avenues that make the study of implementation so essential in the context of the multiple crises of the state in the 21st century. This new edition deserves to be at the centre of any conversation about the future study and practice of implementation.

Martin Lodge
London School of Economics and Political Science

Hill and Hupe’s Implementing Public Policy remains a classic, indispensable, and useful reference for scholars of policy implementation. Providing an original perspective on the study of the operational side of public policy, the fourth edition contains many timely updates including two thoughtful chapters on populism and street-level bureaucracy.

Eva Thomann
University of Konstanz

This advances on earlier editions with a more explicit conceptualization of implementation in terms of governance. Two entirely new chapters have been added: addressing the consequences of populism and exploring the contribution of street-level bureaucracy to the study of implementation. Additionally the chapter on research stresses the need for it to have a comparative, particularly cross-national, character; and the concluding chapter explores the extent to which recent approaches such as the introduction of the notion of ‘implementation science' provide new insights.

Social Policy Association

Ever since the first edition of Hill and Hupe’s masterful book Implementing Public Policy was published in 2002, it has become the first port-of-call for those interested in unpacking and discussing the theories, tools and techniques behind putting policies into practice. Each edition has become the ‘Doctor Who’ of policy implementation – retaining its core characteristics but regenerating for a new era. This new 4th edition has done it again – retaining classic issues of policy implementation (such as top down vs bottom up debates), but tackling the impact on implementation of contemporary governance, populism, Brexit,  ‘post-truth’ financial crises, climate change and COVID.  In a nutshell, there is no greater challenge for policy implementation than ‘populist’ policies, disregard for science and expertise, and the vilification of street-level bureaucrats on the front-line of trying to make policies work.

Implementing Public Policy is the ‘go to’ work on the subject, written by two academic experts who are steeped in findings ways to help us understand the opportunities, perils and pitfalls of putting policies into practice in a complex, politicised and ever-changing world.  It is best to avoid thinking of policy implementation as mundane and mechanistic. Just like the Tardis, the 4th edition of Implementing Public Policy is bigger on the inside.

Professor Emeritus Allan McConnell
University of Sydney

 Hill and Hupe's "Implementing Public Policy" remains an enduring, essential, and invaluable resource for anyone interested in the study of policy implementation. Proposing a pioneering perspective on the operational facets of public policy, the fourth edition boasts significant enhancements, prominently featuring the inclusion of two new chapters. In Chapter 6, these esteemed scholars delve into the repercussions of populism, while Chapter 9 focuses on characterizing street-level bureaucracy research and its invaluable contributions to implementation studies. These newly added chapters distinctly fortify the enduring significance of this classic book.

Nissim Cohen
The University of Haifa

This new edition of Michael Hill's and Peter Hupe's classic work on policy implementation is a most welcome addition to the literature. The book provides a comprehensive review of key implementation topics, from the top-down vs. bottom-up debate, to the influence of contemporary populist movements on implementation processes. While it is a serious academic work, with updated references and solid theoretical discussions, the book is written in a very accessible way. Each chapter is filled with interesting insights and useful boxes that summarize key points. For all this, the book might be relevant for both graduate and undergraduate students, and for policymakers and practitioners interested in learning how policy ideas are translated into policy actions. As with the previous editions, Hill and Hupe's book is both the best introduction to the subject, and an excellent point of departure to reflect about the future of implementation studies. 

Mauricio I. Dussauge-Laguna
Flacso, Mexico

Great analysis for postgrad students

Dr David Beck
Health & Society, Salford University
October 12, 2023

This text will be the base text for one section of the course

Professor David Dolowitz
Department of Politics, Liverpool University
October 3, 2023

A must read for all policy students.

Mr Paul Edward Matthews
Gloucestershire Business School, Gloucestershire University
March 23, 2022
Key features
  • The only book on the market to cover policy implementation – a crucial part of the policy process and vital component of all courses on public administration – in this level of detail.
  • The gold-standard introduction, this book has been a fixture on course reading lists for at least two decades, this modern classic is now comprehensively revised and updated throughout.
  • New content on researching policy implementation and how policy is adapting to account for the rise of populism, the global pandemic and the ongoing climate emergency.
  • Enhanced pedagogy – illustrative examples and key concept boxes – make this edition the most accessible yet.

Sage College Publishing

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