From Research to Practice
Edited by Nicola F. Dotti
Chapter 2: Theories on policy learning: existing approaches and future challenges
Policy learning designates the cognitive and social dynamic leading policy actors to revise or strengthen their policy beliefs and preferences over time. In this chapter, we propose a synthesis of existing research on policy learning. We distinguish three main sets of approaches – namely, the “managerialist” approaches, “diffusion and convergence” approaches, and “social learning” approaches – before pointing to their common characteristics: a consideration of the long run; a focus on the role not only of the state but also non-state actors in policy processes; and a recognition that policy actors’ rationality is “bounded”. Then, we discuss three challenges for future research: deepening our knowledge of the behavioural aspects of policy learning; recognizing and studying the multiple outcomes of policy learning; and looking for settings and practices fostering or impeding policy learning.
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