The majority of policy studies assume that, once a policy has been formulated, it will be implemented. This is not unreasonable, after all. The scholars who analyze policies and build models of the policy processes do base their work on the assumption that the policy will be implemented, exactly as it is. Furthermore, this assumption extends to another: that the desired results of the policy will be close, at least, to those expected by the policy makers. It should be noted that this assumption is shared by many common citizens. As Thomas R. Dye said in 1972, “We assume that when Congress adopts a policy and appropriates money for it, and when the executive branch organizes a program, hires people, spends money, and carries out activities designed to implement the policy, the effects of the policy will be felt by society and the effects will be those intended by the policy.”
This assumption, like many others, serves to simplify our models. However, it was been observed over the years that it is invalid for many kinds of policies, most notably those formulated in many Third World nations. Third world governments often formulate broad, sweeping policies, while the bureaucracy, charged with their implementation, lack the capacity to do so effectively. Meanwhile, the opposition as well as affected individuals and groups attempt to influence not the formulation of the vaguely-worded policy, but its implementation. While India, a relatively newly industrialized country, can no longer safely be referred to as a Third World country (at least not without encountering vehement opposition), the presence of “broad sweeping policies” has been strongly felt in our Five Year Plans, at least in the past.
The point is this: models disregard one aspect that has a great effect on the execution of policy. Between the passage of the relevant legislation and the final, eventual, actual implementation, there is a vast political arena. After all, policies are often initiated without consulting interested or affect individuals and groups. However, these groups, including political parties come into play during policy implementation. It is at this point in time that the policy may be either abandoned altogether, or implemented or modified to meet the demands of involved parties. This means, of course, that the policy as finally implemented may have nothing in common with the policy as originally passed.
The problem, therefore, is that even if the government is fully committed to the implementation of a particular policy, its implementation depends on the performance of bureaucrats. And these bureaucrats often lack the capacity for effective action. James C. Scott, on the subject, writes, “Influence at the enforcement stage often takes the form of ‘corruption’ and has seldom been treated as the alternative means of interest...