This article presents an institutionalist perspective on the relationship between policy failure and policy learning. It contributes both to our understanding of different patterns institutional change as well as the conditions for policy learning at the system-wide level. The first section elaborates the concept of policy failure in terms of type, value and timing. Next, how policy failure may trigger a process of deinstitutionalisation and in turn create conditions for subsequent policy learning is described. These contributions to theory are explored through selected evidence from the reform trajectory of Australian health insurance policy from the mid-1970s to late-1990s.
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