The above theoretical concerns – reinforced by my arrival in Wageningen where the relationship between theory and practice has always been hotly debated – led in the early 1980s to my taking a keener interest in issues of policy and planned development. Like the dominant theoretical paradigms of the 1960s and 1970s, much policy analysis still seemed to cling to a rather mechanical or systems model of the relationship between policy, implementation and outcomes. The tendency in many studies was to conceptualise this as essentially linear in nature, implying some kind of step-by-step process whereby policy was formulated, implemented and then followed by certain results, after which one could evaluate the process in order to establish how far the original objectives had been achieved. Yet, as my own field research on the Peruvian Land Reform programme had shown – and enlightened planners and development workers will readily appreciate – this separation of ‘policy’, ‘implementation’ and ‘outcomes’ is a gross oversimplification of a much more complicated set of processes which involve the reinterpretation or transformation of policy during the implementation process, such that there is no straight line from policy to outcomes. Also, ‘outcomes’ often result from factors which cannot be directly linked to the implementation of a particular development programme. Moreover, issues of policy implementation should not be restricted to the study of top-down, planned interventions by governments, development agencies and private institutions, since local groups actively formulate and pursue their own ‘projects of development’, which may clash with the interests of central authorities.