Policy alienation of public professionals: Structural factors at the governmental level

Nadine Engen, LG Tummers, Victor Bekkers, Bram Steijn

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference contributionAcademic


Previous research that used the policy alienation framework to understand why or why not public professionals identify with policies, applied the framework to analyze the experiences with one specific policy. The present paper complements these studies by adopting a different stance towards policy alienation, namely by analyzing the feelings of strategic (national), tactical (organizational) and operational (personal) powerlessness and societal and client meaninglessness of public professionals towards policies more generally speaking. The main reason for this is entangled in processes such as policy layering and policy succession, that suggest that new policies should not truly be regarded as new. In this paper we adopt the point of view that policies are not developed in a vacuum and that earlier experiences with policies or policy processes result in a public professional having a certain disposition, more or less alienated, towards policies in general. We aimed at investigating structural causes at the governmental level that affect this degree of alienation. A review of the literature suggested that experienced trust from the government (i.e. to what extent a public professional has the impression that the government is trusting him and colleague professionals), the perceived consistency of policies over time and the quality of information provided are all negatively related to policy alienation. Since policy alienation is a multidimensional concept, we undertook a survey among 1.183 Dutch education professionals, and analyzed the data using structural equation modeling in order to determine the relative strengths of the relationships and to estimate for each of the dimensions which factors were most relevant. Theoretical contributions to the policy implementation literature concerning the attitudes and behaviours of public professionals, as well as directions for future research and practical implications, are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 28 Nov 2013
EventNIG Annual Work Conference - Enschede
Duration: 28 Nov 201329 Nov 2013


ConferenceNIG Annual Work Conference


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