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Power and autonomy in the Saudi state : case study analysis of policy implementation.

Mlafekh, Moneef N. (2011) Power and autonomy in the Saudi state : case study analysis of policy implementation. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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There is a substantial literature that now exists on public policy analysis which recognises a variety of issues surrounding implementation. Studies of the actions of public policy service deliverers or what Lipsky (1980) calls street level bureaucrats (SLBs), reveals numerous examples where they misinterpret or contest the conceived purpose of policies formulated at the central level and, therefore, fail to deliver policy in a manner consistent with the ideals of core policymakers. In the case of Saudi Arabia however, little is known about the factors that contribute to the implementation of public policy there or the degree of political autonomy experienced by Saudi SLBs at the implementation stage. The purpose of this study is to address this lacuna by exploring the nature of power and autonomy in the Saudi political system through a case study of public education policy. The research examines the way in which such policy is implemented by secondary schools principals and education managers (SLBs) in three different local education authorities across Saudi Arabia, namely in Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam cities, and examined the variable degree of devolved power or political autonomy experienced by these SLBs in the implementation process. The research was drawn from semi-structured interviews conducted with secondary school principals and various managers of education at the local level, as well as with senior officials in the Saudi Ministry of Education (MoE). The issues that emerged were mainly related to key aspects of power relationships between different bureaucratic tiers of the MoE and education policy process within the policy formulation, implementation and monitoring stages. The key finding of the research indicates that SLBs have a considerable degree of discretionary power in the implementation process, leading to variation not only between the central policy formulation stage and the local implementation level but also across the 3 regions. This is explained by the nature of the Saudi governance structure and, more particularly, the education policy itself, which lacks clear objectives, instructions, rules, procedures and mechanisms for monitoring and feedback. These findings challenged the existing literature on the Saudi State that explains the authoritarian, top-down nature of the Saudi political system which assumes policy made by the centre is closely translated further down the policy-chain at the policy implementation stage by SLBs.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Politics (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.531175
Depositing User: EThOS Import Sheffield
Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2016 14:13
Last Modified: 12 Dec 2016 14:13
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/14981

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