The implementation of public policy: a sociological examination of a watershed project using grounded theory

Malia, James
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Local sponsors of federal projects may redefine policy initiatives and implementation strategies to be consistent with local perceptions of need and available resources. These local solutions may not be adequate to sustain the project or to address the larger societal good that is the prime policy objective. As a result, the policy fails to achieve its stated objectives and the societal good may be compromised. The study examines the implementation of a watershed project to learn how implementation strategies can be better devised to increase local compliance;The Little Sioux Watershed program in Western Iowa provides the empirical data for this research. The study examines the operation and maintenance of watershed structures in selected counties to derive a grounded theory explaining local sponsors' implementation of policy objectives delegated to them by the original project agreement;Data were obtained from archival records and from personal interviews with individuals knowledgeable about the operation and maintenance program of the Little Sioux Watershed project;Results from the research indicate that local sponsors will redefine federal policy initiatives and implement programs which are consistent with local expectations of governmental behavior, the availability of local resources, the dominant values of local citizens, and local perceptions of how best to survive in a competitive economy. These results are used as the basis for suggesting improved policy implementation strategies.

Sociology and anthropology, Sociology