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What are the key factors involved in implementing and managing social policies and programs?


Answer the following: 

What are the key factors involved in implementing and managing social policies and programs? Support your answer with an example of a social policy or program implementation. 


  • Contribute a minimum of 450 words for your initial post. It should include at least two academic sources, formatted and cited in APA.

Key Factors that Intervene in the Implementation and Management of Social Policies and Programs 

Class Presentation:  SWGR803_M5 (PDF) Download SWGR803_M5 (PDF)

As discussed in the previous modules, the formulation of social policies is based on paradigms, theories, models, and processes that are followed from the moment that some needs/problems/situations capture the attention of all social and political actors, and it is decided to work around them. This process will not be free of obstacles and conflicts until an agreement is reached among all the actors on what social policy and programs will be developed to deal with the need/problem/situation. However, it is necessary to point out some factors that affect its implementation.  

Maldonado and Palma (2013) mention six factors that may impact the implementation of social policies and programs: 

· Bureaucratic inertia and previous policies or decisions (status quo). 

· Existing rules and procedures to change the status quo. 

· Correlation of forces between the main political actors at different levels of government and electoral and legislative majorities. 

· Tensions and mobilizations around allocating and redistributing resources (social, economic, and fiscal). 

· Events that alter the scope and perceptions about economic, political, and social priorities at a given time and historical context. 

· Resources and capacities available in each context/moment in a public policy sector (technical, political, financial, and communicational) (p.47). 

These factors affect the effectiveness and efficiency of social policies and programs. Bureaucratic inertia delays the implementation of a policy or program. Even if a policy has been approved and a program has been designed, due to bureaucracy in allocating resources (human and economic), it is a slow process that can take months or even years. An example of this is the case of Puerto Rico with Hurricane Maria in 2017. In this case, although requests for various services and economic resources have been submitted, the bureaucratic process for disbursement and implementation continues in 2022.  

Maldonado and Palma (2013) indicate that these programs or policies cannot be modified to the present reality at the time of implementation since these are achieved through "prior legal and budgetary decisions with present and future consequences on the programs and fiscal resources. They create immediately binding obligations and commitments and often cannot be retroactively modified" (p. 47). Unfortunately, it happens all too often that policies or programs do not respond to the current reality at the time of implementation; the world is constantly changing, as are the problems/situations/needs and the subjects.  

Former President Barack Obama stated in the documentary "The G Word" that implementing or modifying a policy or achieving any change could be compared to a great ship, which takes time to change course (Obama, 2022). It should be noted that some social policies or programs come from political and institutional conjunctures, according to Maldonado and Palma (2013), and what "complicates altering laws, policies or decisions in force" (p. 47).  

Implementing social policies and programs will also entail orientation, training, and retraining of personnel in the institutions of the rules, procedures, and regulations to comply with the new law, policy, or social program. Sometimes there is resistance to changing the status quo. Conflictual relations between the various social and political actors also impact the implementation of social policies and programs. This situation is seen when the federal government approves policies; however, there is no guarantee that these policies will be implemented at the local or state level; they may also undergo changes or reforms, especially when implementing federal policies requires contributions from the state or local governments. 

The mobilization and redistribution of resources (social, economic, and fiscal) generate tension, sometimes apathy and inertia, which adversely affect the implementation of a social policy or program. The perceptions of political and social actors and those of the actors who will implement the policies on economic and social priorities can alter the implementation of programs (Maldonado & Palma, 2013). The available resources and the technical capabilities of human resources will impact the implementation of a social policy. The success of implementation depends not only on fiscal and financial resources but also on the training of human resources, on technical processes, communication processes before, during, and after the policy or program implementation, and, finally, on the evaluation and feedback processes.  

Other factors mentioned by (Birkland, 2020) that may affect the implementation of a given policy or that may affect its effectiveness or efficiency are the selection of ineffective tools or solutions, failures in political institutions, changes in circumstances or realities, the interrelation between opposing policies, unattainable expectations, or objectives, among others. 

Validity of the Theories or Models Used 

A policy's conception, elaboration, implementation, and evaluation are based on a philosophical foundation, paradigms, theories, models, and designs. In developing social policies, various models are used in decision-making (comprehensive rationality, bounded rationality, disjointed incrementalism, and "wastebasket," among others). Theories that provide the basis for social policy are also articulated: theories based on the rational model, theories based on power analysis, institutionalism and neo-institutionalism, system theory, and cognitive and constructivist approaches, to mention a few (Ordóñez-Matamoros, G., 2013). 

Methods are applied to identify and define the problem (brainstorming, problem frontier analysis, systemic problem analysis, hierarchy of causes analysis, and others) as well as implementation plan designs (top-down implementation model, bottom-up implementation model, etc.) and monitoring and evaluation designs (ex-ante evaluation, evaluation during or monitoring, ex-post evaluation of results and impact through sampling, surveys, interviews, focus groups, and others). These theories, models, and designs should be consistent with the paradigm used and evidence-based according to the literature review, which will support their validity.

Institutional Aspects Related to the Management and Behavior of Organizations

First, it is necessary to understand what organizational behavior or culture implies. An organization or institution is a group of people who perform tasks and administer goods and services to the community. For this administration to be effective, there must be communication and cooperation among its members who work together towards achieving the organization's goals (Maldonado, 2015). How is such organizational behavior achieved? The answer to this question will be discussed in the next point. 

Organizational behavior refers to the individual behavior of all the individuals that make up the organization, which can be internal and external. This behavior results from the interaction between individuals and the attitudes, perceptions, values, and individual aspirations, among others, of each (Uriarte, 2019). The organizational culture is defined by Uriarte (2019) as a set of values and norms that are transmitted through all its hierarchies. […] it also includes the set of experiences, beliefs, and attitudes shared by the members of the organization, which affects interactions both internally (between groups and members) and externally (with other organizations). This author states that organizational behavior makes it possible to evaluate the necessary changes, whether change is necessary for the organizational culture or in the way the organization transmits or provides goods and services.  

Andrade (1992) proposeseight8 steps to achieve change in behavior and culture organizations. First, he proposes that it is necessary to define the ideal or desired culture clearly. This includes what values should govern the organizational behavior and should be concretely identified with specific behaviors. In conjunction with the previous step, it is necessary to identify the existing behavior to diagnose how close or distant one is from the ideal culture. Another step intertwined with the previous one is to identify the differences between the ideal and the real culture and define what needs to be done to reduce the differences between them. It should be noted that Andrade (1992) states that these actions should be taken in cascades, from top to bottom, from high and medium hierarchy levels. 

This desired organizational culture should be disseminated throughout the organization using multiple means of reinforcement through implementing an action plan. Concrete actions should be taken at different levels of the organization that stimulate the transition and modification of structures and schemes, if necessary. Finally, Andrade (1992) suggests the periodic repetition of the process, which will allow the constant renewal and mobility of the organization/institution, adjusted to the changing environment and social changes, thus avoiding falling into inertia. 


Human Resources, Motivation, Job Satisfaction, Performance, and Orientation Towards the Needs of Clients or Users of Services 

Santana Rabell (2007) maintains that the managerial aspects, aspects that need to be identified in the implementation of a social policy are: administrative leadership, changes in the organizational culture, improving the salary conditions of employees at the operational level, revision of processes, regulations, protocols, and inter-organizational establishment for the coordination of services. He also mentions that, although many authors argue that these aspects determine the success or failure of social policies, many legislations, policies, or programs do not complete or do not include them. 

Santana Rabell (2007) proposes an organization far removed from bureaucratic, flexible, functional, transparent, and participatory structures. He suggests an organization adaptable to the interests of both employees and participants of the services or goods. In organizations where relationships are established in a horizontal and non-hierarchical way, encouraging the participation of employees in decisions, ideas, and planning, increases their motivation and satisfaction with work. Consequently, there is a high performance, and they respond effectively to the demands of the participants. Finally, employees are seen as "the most important resource of the organization, promoting motivation, satisfaction, and productivity, as well as the improvement of salary and physical working conditions" (Santana Rabell, 2007, p. 321). So, the remuneration system is internally equitable and externally competitive (Maldonado, 2015, p. 43). 

In addition to remuneration, there are favorable working conditions, a supportive work climate, good benefits, a good promotion, rewards, and an advancement system. 

Knowledge, Training, and Social Sensitivity of the Organization's Human Resources

Human resources are fundamental in implementing any social policy, including people and the knowledge, skills, and values they offer to achieve the established objectives (Lohmann & Lohmann, 2002). Staff development and training are fundamental to the success of an organization and the programs or policies it implements. The development and training of employees ensure that everyone works towards the achievement of the same objectives creating a climate of harmony and ensuring that neither the agency nor the employees become static and fall into inertia.  

Maldonado (2015) proposes that: 

· Each employee should have a clear idea of how the organization should operate. 

· The organization must have a good reward system. 

· There should be performance reviews to test learning. 

· An information system must be in place to ensure feedback on learning and actions. 

· The organization must provide training and education programs to support the strategies. 

· Good communication strategies that keep the need for learning in everyone's awareness must prevail. 

· Everyone should know the defined strategic objectives and planning that include learning as indispensable to achieving them (p. 361). 

Lohmann and Lohmann (2002) and Maldonado (2015) reaffirm the importance of knowledge and training as central in organizations since they will result in efficiency and effectiveness in the services and goods offered. They allude that when everyone knows the organization's objectives and goals, when the communication of ideas is accepted, and the information is not "hidden" but shared since it is not "owned" by someone but by everyone, it is a healthy organization. Decisions involving both employees and those affected are made based on the available information (Maldonado, 2015). This implies a social sensitivity to human resources and a social sensitivity toward the participants.  

In healthy organizations, the development and training of human resources is an investment, not an expense (Figure 1). Training is continuous due to constant environmental changes, and risks or challenges are growth opportunities for employees. 

Figure 1: Human Resource Development and Training Outcome


Andrade, H. (1992). El Proceso de cambio cultural en la organización. Management  Today en español, 18(7), 17-26. 

Birkland, T. A. (2020).  An Introduction to the policy process: Theories, c oncepts, and models of policy making. (5th ed.). New York: Routledge. 

Lohmann, R. y N. Lohmann. (2002).  Social administration. Columbia University Press 

Maldonado, J. A. (2015).  Comportamiento, desarrollo y cambio organizacional. 

Maldonado V. y Palma, A.F. (2013).  La construcción de pactos y consensos en materia de política social: Apuntes para un marco de análisis.  San José: CEPAL,  Serie Políticas Sociales, Núm. 179. 

Obama, B. y Obama, M. (2022).  The G word with adam conover [Video]. Netflix – Watch TV Shows Online, Watch Movies Online.  

Ordóñez-Matamoras, G. (2013).  Manual de análisis de políticas públicas. Universidad externado de Colombia. 

Santana Rabell, (2007). Problemas gerenciales en la implementación de la política social.  La  crisis sostenida: Retos para la política social y el trabajo social. 309-323. 

Uriarte, J. M. (2019). Comportamiento Organizacional. to an external site.  



· Suggested readings from the syllabus: 

Guardiola, D., Canino, M.J. y Pratts, S. (1995)  La política Social ante los nuevos desafíos: Cuba y puerto rico. Publicaciones Puertorriqueñas. 

Gil, David G. (1998).  Confronting injustice and oppression: Concepts and strategies for social workers. Columbia University Press. 

Supplemental Resources

· Table annex 1 

Healthy Organization  

Sick Organization 

The organization members widely share the objectives and are committed to carrying them out. 

The staff works little concerning the company's objectives. 

People feel free to point out difficulties. They trust that problems will be solved.  

People see things going wrong and do nothing about it. People talk informally about mistakes and failures with people not involved in them. 

Problems are solved pragmatically and without complexities, directly and officially. Nonconforming behavior is accepted. 

People treat each other in a fictitious way. Issues and problems are masked, especially in front of the boss. 

Decision-making points are determined by ability, sense of responsibility, information availability, the work's importance, time, and managerial development. The hierarchical level is not considered a determinant. 

People in top management control the largest number of decisions. 

There is a sense of team in planning, performance, and discipline. There is shared responsibility. 

Managers act on their own, causing them not to operate according to the organization's plans. 

Problems being addressed include personal needs and human relations. 

The personal needs and feelings of employees are not important to the company. 

There is a high degree of collaboration. There is a willingness to collaborate, and competition is minimal. 

People compete when collaboration is needed. Seeking or accepting help is a sign of weakness. Offering help does not happen. 

When there is a crisis, people cooperate until the crisis disappears.  

When there is a crisis, people avoid or blame each other. 

Conflicts are dealt with effectively and with openness. People say what they want and expect others to do the same. 

Personal conflicts are usually hidden, and there is an increase in grudges among staff. 

There is a lot of on-the-job learning based on a willingness to give. Feedback and advice are sought. 

Learning is difficult. People do not reach out to their peers to learn from them. 

Criticism is seen as inherent in the job and accepted as part of everyday life. 

Feedback and criticism are avoided. 

Relationships are honest; people care about each other and do not feel lonely.  

People feel lonely and lack concern for each other. 

People are motivated and very involved voluntarily. Their workplace is important and fun.  

People feel imprisoned by work and routine, are bored, stultified, and feel obliged to stay there out of necessity. Their behavior is indifferent and docile. It does not feel like a pleasant environment. 

Leadership is situational.  

The manager is the parent who gives orders in the organization. 

There is a high degree of trust among people and a deep sense of freedom with responsibility. People know what is important to the organization and what is not. There is a conviction that one can learn from mistakes.  

The manager controls exaggeratedly. It gives little freedom to allow mistakes. 

Risk is accepted as a condition for growth and opportunity.  

There is great value in minimizing risk. 

Poor performance is addressed, and a solution is sought.  

Poor performance is disguised or manipulated arbitrarily. 

The organization's structure, policies, and procedures are geared to help people permanently protect the smooth running of the organization. There is no excessive resistance to changing the organization's structure, policy, or procedures. 

The organization's structure, policies, and procedures are a "straitjacket" for the company.  

People take refuge in the policies and procedures and play with the organization's structure. 

There is a sense of order and a high degree of innovation.  

The motto "Long live tradition" is fully valid. 

The organization and staff adapt quickly to change and anticipate the future. 

Innovation is not widespread among the hierarchy except in the hands of a few. 

Frustrations are a sign that attracts attention.  

People eat their frustrations. 

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