Explaining the willingness of public professionals to implement new policies: A policy alienation framework

LG Tummers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

71 Citations (Scopus)
117 Downloads (Pure)


Nowadays, many public policies focus on economic values, such as efficiency and client choice. Public professionals often show resistance to implementing such policies. We analyse this problem using an interdisciplinary approach. From public administration, we draw on the policy alienation concept, which consists of five dimensions: strategic powerlessness, tactical powerlessness, operational powerlessness, societal meaninglessness and client meaninglessness. These are considered as factors that influence the willingness of professionals to implement policies (change willingness – a concept drawn from the change management literature). We test this model in a survey among 478 Dutch healthcare professionals implementing a new reimbursement policy. The first finding was that perceived autonomy (operational powerlessness) significantly influenced change willingness, whereas strategic and tactical powerlessness were not found to be significant. Second, both the meaninglessness dimensions proved highly significant. We conclude that clarifying the value of a policy is important in getting professionals to willingly implement a policy, whereas their participation on the strategic or tactical levels seems less of a motivational factor. These insights help in understanding why public professionals embrace or resist the implementation of particular policies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555-581
Number of pages27
JournalInternational Review of Administrative Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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