The argument underpinning this course has stressed the dangers of seeing implementation as somehow separate from the policy process, or as just one stage within it. Instead it has been emphasised that it is vital to place implementation centrally within that process – involving negotiation, learning and adaptation. Others too have come to regard this as central to the policy process. In the first edition of their book on implementation, Pressman and Wildavsky emphasise the disjunction between centrally determined ambitions and locally realised implementation, while in the third edition they acknowledge the wider significance of implementation in generating policy in practice (Pressman and Wildavsky, 1973, 1983).
It is this tension between, on the one hand, visions of a ‘rational’ policy process with clearly specified goals, indicators and outcomes, and, on the other, the experience of implementation that makes the process of management so important and reinforces the need to reflect on and use the models outlined here. At first glance, these models may appear abstract, but they are a useful means of exploring how implementation is perceived to happen. But remember that it is obviously important to take into account different policy fields and national contexts when considering the implications of these models (and the examples provided here).