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Policy implementation as a wicked problem: A study of the horse-world

ELLIOTT, KAREN (2013) Policy implementation as a wicked problem: A study of the horse-world. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

PDF (PhD Policy Implementation as a wicked problem: A study of the horse-world) - Accepted Version


The British Horse Industry Confederation and Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs’ (2005) Strategy for the Horse Industry in England and Wales (Strategy) expresses an ambitious vision to transform the traditional horse-world into a horse industry by 2015. The Horse Strategy calls for all equestrians to become stakeholders, responsible for implementing its central aims of increasing grassroots participation and encouraging engagement with the Horse Strategy. Since 2005, little is known about stakeholders’ experiences of the implementation process or what degree of progress has been made towards creating the horse industry. Given the complex number of groups involved each with their own sets of interests and motives to engage with the horse-world, it is expected that implementation of the Horse Strategy forms a complex wicked problem that is unforeseen and poorly treated.
This thesis explores regional representatives, local authority council policy officers and grassroots equestrians’ experiences of implementing the Horse Strategy. A qualitative analysis of 59 (male and female) semi-structured interviews, diaries (33 adults and 27 children) and profiles, participant and nonparticipant observation, and documentary analysis of equine-related policies and articles is carried out. Sport England’s (2004) Framework for Sport was used to gain an understanding of what factors influence an individual’s choice to participate in equestrianism, and the CLEAR Framework diagnostic tool (Lowndes et al., 2006) was adopted to assess equestrians’ engagement with the Strategy.
Interrelated factors were found to influence an individual’s choice to participate in grassroots equestrianism and these synergistically built on each other to increase participation. The notion of a ‘hook’ or bond with a horse emerged as the most influential factor. However, each group showed considerable competing vested interests that led to fragmentation of the horse-world, giving rise to implementation barriers, deficits, and inertia. Even if a shared language can be established around the icon of the horse to increase participation, problems remain in addressing resourcing, cost, and infrastructure constraints. An overarching complex wicked policy problem emerged as the vested interests among different equestrian groups served to constrain and hinder the policy implementation process. This thesis concludes by providing recommendations to the BHIC and Defra, policy officers, regional representatives and grassroots proprietors to increase participation and encourage engagement with policy at local-level.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Complexity, wicked problems, structural vested interests, street-level bureaucracy, participation, engagement and constraints.
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Applied Social Sciences, School of
Thesis Date:2013
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:18 Nov 2013 13:01

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