Sabatier & Muzmanian’s Framework of the Implementation Process

… a core concept in Implementation and Delivery and Atlas107

Concept description

Leslie Pal (reference below) summarizes the elements for successful implementation set out by Sabatier and Mazmanian (1981).

Pal writes (p. 187):

“While the Hogwood and Gunn list of requirements is developed from the point of view of the administrator or implementer, there is another approach that incorporates some system-level considerations. Offered by Sabatier and Mazmanian (1981), this list picks up many of the same variables as Hogwood and Gunn. Box 5.3 summarizes the framework, which hinges on three broad categories of variables.

“First, the tractability of the problem: Some issues, for example, traffic congestion, are easier to deal with than others, disposal of nuclear waste among them. A good causal theory, a relatively narrow range of targeted behaviour, a small population target group, and a small desired change in behaviour as a result of policy make implementation more successful, all other things being equal.

“Second, Sabatier and Mazmanian also incorporate legislative and institutional variables. The statute should be clear, and the implementing agency well resourced. Linkages to cooperating agencies should be designed with a minimum of veto points and strong lines of accountability. The statute should be implemented by agencies or individuals sympathetic to its goals, and outside access to the decisionmaking process should be skewed toward supporters rather than critics.

“A third category is broad socio-economic and political variables that determine the fate of implementation. These overlap in part with forces [that serve to maintain] the sense in the public and the political system that the problem to which the policy is being directed is important and requires attention. In sum, the chances of successful implementation, which Sabatier and Mazmanian define as “the translation of statutory objectives into the policy decisions of implementing agencies,” are maximized if there are clear objectives, sympathetic agencies, authority, resources, fidelity to statute and rules, leadership, and public support – such a daunting list that it illustrates why the study of implementation appears to be the dismal science of policy analysis …”

See also: Implementation Theory.

Atlas topic, subject, and course

The Study of Implementation and Delivery (core topic) in Implementation and Delivery and Atlas107


Leslie Pal (2014), Beyond Policy Analysis – Public Issue Management in Turbulent Times, Fifth Edition, Nelson Education, Toronto. See Beyond Policy Analysis – Book Highlights.

Sabatier, P. A., & Mazmanian, D. A. (1981). The implementation of public policy: A framework of analysis. In D. A. Mazmanian & P.A. Sabatier (Eds.), Effective policy implementation (pp. 3–35). Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified 12 April 2017.

Image: Pace Process Control, at, accessed 12 April 2017.