Policy Alienation: Analyzing the experiences of public professionals with new policies

L.G. Tummers, V.J.J.M. Bekkers, A.J. Steijn, S. van Thiel

Research output: ThesisDoctoral thesis 3 (Research UU / Graduation NOT UU)


Currently, there is an intense debate on the pressures public professionals face in service delivery. Many professionals show increasing discontent toward policies they have to implement. In healthcare, psychologists, psychiatrists and psychotherapists demonstrated against plans of the government to implement Diagnosis Related Groups (Diagnose Behandeling Combinaties, DBC’s). Furthermore, many secondary school teachers had difficulties identifying with the Second Phase policy (Tweede Fase). These examples are not unique: public professionals often appear to have difficulties identifying with the policy they have to implement. This can have severe consequences for policy performance, but also for the work lives of these professionals. To date, there is no coherent, theoretical framework for analyzing this topic. In this study we build a theoretical framework of ‘policy alienation’. Policies in healthcare, social security and education are analyzed, using both qualitative and quantitative techniques. We selected policies which had a high degree of policy alienation, as well as policies which were more positively received. The conclusions of this study challenge common assertions about the reasons for resistance of public professionals towards policies. For instance, we found that professionals often agree with the business goals of new policies. They are unwilling to implement such a policy not because it focuses on business goals, but because it would not achieve those business goals. Furthermore, we nuance the impact of professional influence. It is more important for professionals that a policy is developed which is meaningful for society and for their own clients, than that they have influence in its shaping. The results of the study have implications for public administration scholars, public professionals, public managers and policymakers. In order to improve its academic and practical significance, an instrument is developed to measure the degree of policy alienation of implementers. This instrument can be used to understand and improve policy performance.
Original languageEnglish
Print ISBNs978-90-818612-0-5
Publication statusPublished - 2012


Dive into the research topics of 'Policy Alienation: Analyzing the experiences of public professionals with new policies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this