The State and the Poor: A Comparative Analysis of Policy Implementation in India and the United States

Echeverri-Gent, John

     This study is organized into two parts. Part I synthesizes various studies of implementation and organization theory to develop a conceptual framework for the analysis of what I have termed the organizational processes of implementation. The framework synthesizes three analytic perspectives. Chapter 2 presents the Rational Process Perspective. This perspective begins with the assumption of bounded rationality and stresses that planning and feedback create a process of 'dynamic rationality' which shapes the course of implementation by improving the correspondence between its means and ends.
     Chapter 3 elaborates the Political Process Perspective. It begins with the assertion that conflict is endemic in implementing organizations. The Political Process Perspective contends that political activity stemming from conflict largely determines the course of implementation. Together, these perspectives help us to understand the complexity of the internal dynamics of implementing organizations.
     Chapter 4 examines state-society relations by conceptualizing the ways in which implementation is embedded in its societal context. It applies insights developed from organization theory to argue that relations of resource dependence are important factors shaping the process of implementation. It adds that the institutional environment of state agencies condition the way that they implement policy. Finally, it suggests some of the limitations of applying organization theory to state-society relations. These result from organization theory's failure to take into account the distinctive qualities of state organizations.
     Part II utilizes the framework of analysis developed in Part I to examine the implementation of three programs providing employment for the rural poor. While the objectives of these programs are relatively similar, the implementation of each program is organized in different ways. One objective of Part II is to gain some insight into the advantages and disadvantages of these different ways of organizing implementation.
     Chapter 5 examines the implementation of rural poverty programs during the New Deal. From 1935, these programs were implemented by a single agency. Chapter 6 discusses the implementation of the Employment Guarantee Scheme in the Indian state of Maharashtra. This program is implemented through a complex administrative network incorporating seven different agencies. Chapter 7 examines the implementation of the National Rural Employment Programme in the Indian state of West Bengal. Elected local councils have been placed in charge of implementing this program. Chapter 8 concludes this study by assessing the insights that have been gained from applying the framework of analysis elaborated in Part I to the different cases examined in Part II. It attempts to use comparisons among the different cases to examine the plausibility of the propositions advanced by the theoretical framework.