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Policy Alienation and the Power of Professionals

Confronting New Policies Lars Tummers, Associate Professor, Utrecht University School of Governance, the Netherlands
This eloquent book by Lars Tummers develops a framework to understand these important issues with policy implementation, using the innovative concept of ‘policy alienation’. Policies in healthcare, social security, and education are analyzed. The conclusions challenge the common assertions regarding the reasons why professionals resist policies. For instance, the impact of professional influence, often viewed as an end in itself, is nuanced. Lars Tummers reveals that it is far more important for professionals that a policy is meaningful for society and for their clients, than they have an influence in its shaping.
Extent: 208 pp
Hardback Price: £75.00 Web: £67.50
Publication Date: 2013
ISBN: 978 1 78195 402 7
Availability: In Stock
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  • Business and Management
  • Public Management
  • Politics and Public Policy
  • Leadership
  • Public Administration and Management
  • Public Policy
Professionals often have problems with governmental policies they have to implement. This ranges from Israeli teachers striking against school reforms, via British civil servants quitting their jobs as they have problems with New Public Management reforms focused on cost cutting, to US healthcare professionals feeling overwhelmed by a constant flow of policy changes, resulting in tensions, conflicts, and burn-outs.

This eloquent book by Lars Tummers develops a framework to understand these important issues with policy implementation, using the innovative concept of ‘policy alienation’. Policies in healthcare, social security, and education are analyzed. The conclusions challenge the common assertions regarding the reasons why professionals resist policies. For instance, the impact of professional influence, often viewed as an end in itself, is nuanced. Lars Tummers reveals that it is far more important for professionals that a policy is meaningful for society and for their clients, than they have an influence in its shaping.

Policy Alienation and the Power of Professionals is essential for public administration scholars, policymakers, change managers and professionals. To improve its academic and practical significance, a ‘policy alienation’ questionnaire is developed to measure the degree of policy alienation felt by implementers. This instrument can be used to first understand and then improve policy performance in various settings.
‘This work not only contributes to tackling the intellectual hegemony of public choice theories regarding organisational change in the public sector but can also be used in the debates on the application of business-like values in higher education. . . Tummers’ “policy alienation” concept is not only a significant academic contribution, but can also be used as a powerful instrument in a number of important debates regarding the organization of public services.’
– LSE Review of Books

‘Tummers’ book resurfaces alienation as an established and useful concept, but also as a forgotten and ignored reality. Shifts in policies affect the meaning of these policies, and reforms affect power balances. The analyses in this book are crucial to help understand why policies fail and why there is resistance to change. Tummers coins “policy alienation” as an increasingly indispensable concept. Reforms would have been different if Tummers’ analysis on powerlessness and meaninglessness was more taken into account.’
– Geert Bouckaert, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium and former President of the European Group for Public Administration

‘Lars Tummers has written a must-read book! While systemic changes ushered in by market-oriented reforms have received attention, little is known about the plight of the individual in modern bureaucracies. Tummers presents a masterful and authoritative account of policy alienation that public service professionals experience. The breadth and depth of Tummers’s scholarship is impressive! This book has something of value for everyone from the casual reader to public management scholar.’
– Sanjay K. Pandey, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Newark US

‘Why do public sector professionals resist change? Tummers offers a compelling account of the alienation of professionals following new public management reforms. This timely and methodologically innovative book shows public managers how to implement organisational change, and provides scholars with a set of new measurement scales. Policy Alienation and the Power of Professionals is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand how professional organisations operate, and why professionals resist some changes, while embracing others.’
– Steven Van de Walle, Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands

‘This book is a good read for academics and policy makers wishing to understand how professionals operate, and why new policies are sometimes met with resistance at the implementation stage. It stands as an important piece of research which adds substantially to the field and which future scholars can advance.’
– Leanne-Marie Cotter, Public Administration
Contents: Preface Part I: Introduction and Background of Policy Alienation 1. Introducing Policy Alienation and the Power of Professionals 2. An Historical Background of Alienation Part II: Conceptualizing Policy Alienation 3. A Definition of Policy Alienation 4. A Measurement Instrument for Policy Alienation Part III: Antecedents of Policy Alienation 5. The Impact of New Public Management and Professionalism on Policy Alienation Part IV: Effects of Policy Alienation 6. The Impact of Policy Alienation on Resistance to Change 7. Moving Beyond Policy Alienation? Examining Organizational Context and Personality Characteristics Part V: Conclusions and Moving Forward 8. Discussion and Conclusions Appendix: How Can I Use the Policy Alienation Framework in Research, in Consultancy or as a Practitioner? Five Basic Steps References Index