Is implementation distinct from political bargaining? : a micro-level test

Torenvlied, R and Thomson, Robert (2003) Is implementation distinct from political bargaining? : a micro-level test. Rationality and Society, 15 (1). pp. 64-84. ISSN 1043-4631 (

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Two approaches to research on policy implementation are compared in this article. In the first approach, corresponding with the multi-stage view, implementation is understood as a sub-process requiring specific tools of analysis such as principal-agent theory. In the other approach, which we label the political bargaining view, implementation is seen as an integral part of the policy debate that occurs when political decisions are taken. Using data on the implementation of decisions taken in three Dutch local authorities, we show how the different views can be tested using models. We compare the predictions of agency performances made by bargaining models with those made by implementation models. The results show that the models of political bargaining produce significantly less accurate predictions of agency performances than the implementation models, suggesting that implementation is best understood as a distinct stage of the policy process.