6: Policy failures, policy learning and institutional change: the case of Australian health insurance policy change


This chapter studies the connections between repeated assessments of policy failure, the catalysts of deinstitutionalisation, and subsequent opportunities for system-wide policy learning and reform. Selected evidence from the reform trajectory of Australian health insurance policy from the mid-1970s to late-1990s is used to explore these possible relationships. Here, failure delegitimised health policy institutions, making them increasingly vulnerable and giving them weak learning capacity to reform in anything but a suboptimal way. The result is a cycle of failure and dysfunctional learning. The Australian health insurance case allows one to catalogue at least one pattern of the relationships between policy failure, deinstitutionalisation, and learning. Three core analytical arguments underpin this pattern. First, policy failures create opportunities for learning at a system-wide level, only after institutions have been eroded and exhausted by repeated failure. Second, this first claim holds in both the expert and political inquiry dimensions of policy failure. Third, learning processes are related to the particular sequence of deinstitutionalisation processes; in particular, initial deinstitutionalisation in the expert domain creates the conditions for political learning processes.

Content Metrics

May 2022 onwards Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 101 100 10
Full Text Views 0 0 0
PDF Downloads 0 0 0


You are not currently authorised to access the full text of this chapter or article.
Access options
To access the full chapter or article then please choose one of the options below.
Pay to access content (PDF download and unlimited online access)
Other access options
Redeem Token
Institutional Login
Log in via Open Athens or Shibboleth. Please contact your librarian if you need any help.
Login with Institutional Access
Personal Login
Login to your BUP account with your individual credentials.
Login with BUP account

Institutional librarians can find more information about free trials here