chapter  16
Managing partnership: future directions
Pages 18

As the writers in this book have demonstrated, change is never an easy process. Everyone involved has to adjust to new perspectives and frequently there are also shifts in the balance of power. Where governments seek to make changes to social policy through legislation and regulation, they provide a significant reference point for planning about structure and practice. However, implementation is rarely simple, since it involves a complicated process of social and institutional change during which the groups and individuals involved seek to influence the beliefs and actions of others and the ways in which new systems and procedures are set in place. It is therefore widely recognised that government social policy is rarely implemented in exactly the way its architects intended (Barrett and Hill 1984; Welton and Evans 1986). Where there is a consensus, legislation enables and encourages policy along accepted lines. Where there is dissent, governments have greater difficulty in ensuring compliance. Weatherly and Lipsky (1977) described ways in which educational administrators and professionals developed coping mechanisms to manage the demands of reform and of their jobs, distorting the intentions of legislators where such intentions did not appear to be in the interests of clients. The gap between policy and action can be such that it may be more realistic to define policy in terms of the outcomes of legislation, rather than the original policy intentions of the government. Such a gap is likely to be greatest where a government attempts to impose requirements which run counter to recognised or emerging good practice.