Theorizing curriculum policy implementation: The use of 'soft' and 'hard' policy in implementing Hong Kong's curriculum reforms

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers

Abstract

Conceptions of 'soft' and 'hard' policy are now commonly discussed in the policy literature concerned with multi-level systems of governance (Abbott et al., 2000; Torenvlied et al., 2004; Cini, 2001; Hertin et al., 2003; Koulaimah-Gabriel et al., 1997). Such conceptions have been useful ways of delineating different incentives, pressures and motivations for policy implementation. On the one hand implementation can be directed by legislation and regulatory monitoring with the possibility of sanctions for non-compliance ('hard' policy) or it can come in the form of recommendations, education campaigns and strong advocacy ('soft' policy). The application of these conceptions to education policy making is relatively new (Fok, Kennedy and Chan, 2005; Chan, Kennedy and Fok, 2005). It is clear from this work that the concepts of 'hard' and 'soft' policy are useful in understanding aspects of education policy implementation by focusing on the nature of policy and its potential to influence subsequent implementation outcomes. It is equally clear that some adaptation needs to be made to the original meanings underlying these constructs if the full potential of the ideas are to be exploited. The purpose of this paper is to reinterpret the meanings of 'hard' and 'soft' policy with reference to particular case studies of curriculum reform and in particular to focus on the Hong Kong context that provides a unique set of influences governing both curriculum policy and its implementation.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Citation

Kennedy, K. J., Chan, K. S. J., & Fok, P. K. (2006, November). Theorizing curriculum policy implementation: The use of 'soft' and 'hard' policy in implementing Hong Kong's curriculum reforms. Paper presented at the Asia-Pacific Educational Research Association (APERA) International Conference 2006: Educational Research, Policy and Practice in an Era of Globalization, The Hong Kong Institute of Education, China.

Keywords

  • Educational Policy and Management

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