Policy implementation and cognitive skills : the difficulty of understanding implementation

06 Oct 2010

The policy implementation research literature has identified several variables that influence implementation. This article will mainly focus on sensemaking in the implementation process. What a policy means for the implementers is constituted in the interaction of their knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes with the situation. The understanding of the policy message is influenced by individual cognition, situated cognition and the role of the implementing agents. The implementing agents sometimes reject or fundamentally revise national policy proposals. To take a stand against a certain policy, implementers must first know what it is that the directive is asking them to do. The understanding of directives requires cognitive skills and processes of interpretation. What implementers’ make of new information has much to do with prior knowledge, expertise, values, beliefs, and experiences. The article reviews the contribution of cognitive frames to implementation and attempt to make additional contributions.