The Strategic Action Field Framework for Policy Implementation Research

Stephanie Moulton, Jodi R Sandfort

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Drawing upon the theories of social skill and strategic action fields (SAFs), this article presents a SAF Framework for Implementation Research. In the framework, policy implementation systems are conceptualized as multilevel SAFs that form around a public service intervention. Within this context, socially skilled actors leverage diverse sources of authority—including but not limited to political authority—to enable change or stability to a public service intervention. While the framework has underpinnings in field theory, it is able to encompass multiple theoretical perspectives, including complexity theories, organizational theories, economic theories, and theories of human behavior. Importantly, the SAF Framework allows for the integration of results relevant to both management and policy—change in implementation systems, and change in the behavior or conditions of an external target group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)144-169
Number of pages26
JournalPolicy Studies Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Policy Studies Organization


  • policy implementation
  • public management
  • public policy

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