Thus, a Weberian approach may be desirable in theory, but its practice may result in “policy failure” (Matland, 1995, 148).
For example, Matland described O’Toole’s analysis of water treatment plants; hence, the top-down approach revealed that privately owned treatment plants out-performed public treatment plants.
However, once broader issues of affirmative action, Davis-Bacon labor laws, and technology were integrated into the analysis, then public treatment plants outperformed private plants (Ibid).
For example, Matland discussed Hjern’s findings that central initiatives poorly adapted to local conditions failed, and, that success depended greatly on the local implementer’s ability to adapt to local conditions (Ibid).
Discretion by agents is the underlying premise of the bottom-up approach (Elder, Lecture, 2011).
Second, bottom-uppers ignore the fact that many policies are created in a top-down manner, and likely in a manner which reinforces top-down authority.
For example, Matland describes Sabatier’s analysis of environmental regulation in the United States, whereas the federal designers of the federal act integrated the necessary clauses to allow for class and individual lawsuits (150).Bottom-up designers begin their implementation strategy formation with the target groups and service deliverers, because they find that the target groups are the actual implementors of policy (Matland, 1995, 146).Moreover, bottom-uppers contend that if local bureaucrats [implementors] are not allowed discretion in the implementation process with respect to local conditions, then the policy will “likely fail” (Matland, 1995, 148).When this happens, top-down becomes a “tactic” and not a strategy for implementation (484).Top-downers are quite often guilty of three criticisms.This essay will discuss the starting points, premises, and relative utility of the top-down and bottom-up approaches within policy implementation.I will account when the top-down and bottom-up approaches should be utilized depending on the nature of the policy and the task environment in which the policy is being implemented.In general, Top-down implementation is the carrying out of a policy decision—by statute, executive order, or court decision; whereas the authoritative decisions are “centrally located” by actors who seek to produce the “desired effects” (Matland, 1995, 146).The bottom-up implementation approach initiates with the target groups and service deliverers, because they find that the target groups are the actual implementors of policy.Accordingly, goals, strategies, and activities must be deployed with special attention to the people the policy will directly impact.Thus, evaluation based upon the street-level bureaucrat would be the best practice (Matland, 1995, 149).