ASTK18286U Public Policy & Program Implementation

Volume 2019/2020

Bachelor student (2012 programme curriculum): 10 ECTS

Bachelor student (2017 programme curriculum): 7.5 ECTS

Master student: 7.5 ECTS


This course examines the implementation of public policy and programs.  Implementation is an integral, dynamic and often unpredictable component of the policy-making and systems change process.  Policies are not only created by elected officials, who authorize and fund government activities, but also by bureau administrators, local managers, front-line staff, and citizens who interpret and interact with them.  Public policy and program implementation occurs in a complex system, which introduces unexpected detours and creates outcomes unanticipated by policy makers.   This course provides students a way to understand and manage this complexity effectively. 

Learning Outcome


  • Multilevel implementation analysis. 
  • Identification of core policy or program and investigation of how it is understood at the policy field, organizational, and frontline levels. 
  • Understand implementation as a social process that involves institutional power and resources that often significantly shapes tasks at each of these levels. 



  • Maintain research schedule, including completing interim assignments related to your implementation analysis;
  • Gather  diverse data from implementation systems, organizations, managers, and frontline staff;
  • Conduct policy field, organizational and frontline audits
  • Develop visual representation of key implementation activities,
  • Create viable strategies for improving implementation conditions.



  • Integrate and apply theoretical frameworks to make sense of professional and institutional practices;
  • Analyze social contexts, meaning, and technology;
  • Provide peer feedback in a professional manner.

Jodi Sandfort and Stephanie Moulton, Effective Implementation in Practice: Integrating Public Policy and Management (Jossey-Bass Publishing, 2015). 


Trish Greenhalgh, Glenn Robert, Fraster MacFarlane, Paul Bate, and Olivia Kyriakidou (2004).  “Diffusion of Innovation in Service Organizations:  Systematic Review and Recommendations,” Milbank Quarterly. 82(4): 581-629.


Heather C. Hill (2003).  “Understanding Implementation:  Street-Level Bureaucrats Resources for Reform.”  Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory.  13(3):  265-282. 


Chris Huxham and Siv Vaugen. (2000). “Ambiguity, Complexity, and Dynamics In The Membership Of Collaboration.” Human Relations, 53(6): 771-806.


Barbara Gray and Jill Purdy (2018). “An Institutional Lens of Multistakeholder Partnerships,” and “Power and Collaboration,” Collaborating for Our Future:  Multistakeholder Partnerships for Solving Complex Problems.  Oxford University Press.  36-47 & 117-155.


Nabatchi, Tina, Alessandro Sancino, Mariafrancesca Scicilia (2017).  “Varieties of Participation in Public Services:  the Who, When, and What of Coproduction,” Public Administration Review. 1-11. 


Kilminster, SM and BC Jolly (2000).  “Effective Supervision in Clinical Practice Settings:  A Literature Review,” Medical Education 34(8):  827-840. 


Steven Maynard-Moody and Michael Musheno (2000).  “State Agent or Citizen Agent:  Two Narratives of Discretion,” Journal of Public Administration, Research and Theory 10(2): 329-358.


Marcia Meyers and Vibeke Nielsen (2012).  “Street-Level Bureaucrats and the Implementation of Public Policy,”  The SAGE Handbook of Public Administration.  London. 


Neil Fligstein (2008).  “Fields, Power and Social Skill:  A Critical Analysis of the New Institutionalism,” International Public Management Review 9(1): 227-253.


Richard Thaler & Cass Sustein (2009), “Following the Herd,” and “When do we need a Nudge,” Nudge:  Improving Decisions about health, Wealth and Happiness.  Penguin Books.  


Richard Elmore (1979-80), “Backwards Mapping:  Implementation Research and Policy Decisions,” Political Science Quarterly 94:4, pg. 601-616.

Students in Public Administration, Organization and Leadership, International relationships and conflict resolution, European politics, and Evaluation, and other fields.
This course combines interactive lectures, discussions of students’ individual analysis of theoretical material (which they post virtually), and project based learning.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • Total
  • 28
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)


Students will be asked to do individual posts to a small learning group about course materials; this will allow me to observe their analysis skills and provide feedback in the discussion threads. Early in the course, students will need to have their topic of research approved by me, based upon an initial description. Students will submit interim assignments to this same group, allowing them to receive both peer feedback and structured feedback from me about their emerging research

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Free written assignment
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship

Free written assignment

Criteria for exam assesment
  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner