Policy improvisation: How frontline workers cope with public service gaps in developing countries-The case of Mexico’s Prospera program
Rik Peeters, Profesor Investigador Titular de la División de Administración Pública del CIDE, y Sergio A. Campos, escribieron el artículo Policy improvisation: How frontline workers cope with public service gaps in developing countries-The case of Mexico’s Prospera program en la revista Public Administration and Development.
How do frontline workers behave when they are, from one day to the other, left without clients because the policy that organized their street-level interactions has been terminated? This is what happened in early 2019 to the staff of medical centers across Mexico after the sudden transformation of the long-standing social program Prospera. Interviews with frontline workers show that they respond to this “policy void” by developing strategies of informal talks, community outreach, and the investment of personal resources to recover their clients. The findings presented here are relevant for understanding how frontline workers cope with public service gaps in developing countries. The notion of “policy improvisation” as a coping mechanism—frontline workers developing informal policy activities when being left without proper implementation instructions and capacity—is used here to signal the broader phenomenon of human resource neglect and implementation gaps in Latin American public administration.