Policy & Politics
Advancing knowledge in public and social policy

Policy learning and policy failure: definitions, dimensions and intersections

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Claire A. DunlopUniversity of Exeter, UK

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Policy failures present a valuable opportunity for policy learning, but public officials often fail to learn valuable lessons from these experiences. The studies in this volume investigate this broken link. This introduction defines policy learning and failure, and then organises the main studies in these fields along the key dimensions of: processes, products and analytical levels. We continue with an overview of the special issue articles, outlining where they sit in the wider literature and how they link learning and failure. We conclude sketching a research agenda linking policy scholars with policy practice.

Claire A. DunlopUniversity of Exeter, UK

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This article and special issue arises from the ‘Policy Failure’ workshop hosted by Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP), National University of Singapore, 19–21 February 2014. All the special issue authors wish to thank the workshop organisers – Michael Howlett, M Ramesh and Xun Wu – and all the other participants for their intellectual generosity and support. As guest editor, I want to extend my sincere thanks to all the anonymous referees whose comments inspired our authors and helped improve the articles. Thanks also to the team at Policy and Politics who have made this such a rigorous and fun experience! Particular thanks go to Sarah Ayres, Sarah Brown, Felicity Matthews and Rebecca Tomlinson for their patience, humour and insight. With regard to this introduction, many thanks to two anonymous referees whose feedback helped improve the manuscript. Of course, any errors or omissions in this article remain my responsibility.

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