Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel: Policy Implementation Research: New Methods and Models
(Public and Non-Profit Management and Finance)

Thursday, November 12, 2015: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Ibis (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Organizers:  Jodi Sandfort, University of Minnesota
Panel Chairs:  Jodi Sandfort, University of Minnesota
Discussants:  Jodi Sandfort, University of Minnesota

Understanding Contrasts and Contexts
Carolyn Hill and Virginia W. Knox, MDRC

From Fidelity to Fit: Informing Policy and Program Implementation in Complex Systems
Stephanie Moulton, The Ohio State University and Jodi Sandfort, University of Minnesota

This panel examines practical frameworks, theory and methods relevant to improving the evaluation of and research about policy implementation. This attention is particularly relevant given the conferences’ focus on the “golden age of evidence.” Although the turn to evidence-informed practice is notable, it is accompanied by a corresponding concern for dissemination, replication, and scaling of evidence-based approaches. This concern has given rise to the development of within health and education of an “implementation science” particularly focused considering these issues (Meyers, Durlak,& Wandersman, 2012; Damschroder, 2009). Yet what is systematically left out of this approach is how larger system dynamics, politics and cultural values fundamentally shape how the core program ideas are adapted and modified to state and local contexts (Sandfort & Moulton, 2015; Nilsen, et al 2013). Because implementation science is focused on ‘spreading evidence-base projects’ they overlook what is needed to enable organizational and network capabilities to enhance implementation effectiveness. What is missing is an integration of systematic approaches to evaluation and research that understand the institutional context and dynamics so important in implementing public policy. This panel brings together researchers from academia and policy research firms interested in exploring how policy implementation and institutional capacity intersect. The papers and presentations probe some core themes of practical relevance: How do we understand the operation of complex systems and the impact of their operation on outcomes? How do we develop an evidence-based approach to technical assistance? How do we work across academia and research firms to develop new methods and models? While each contributor will offer a solid paper, there will also be unique opportunities in the session to talk about these overarching questions.