Knowledge, Policymaking and Learning for European Cities and Regions
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Knowledge, Policymaking and Learning for European Cities and Regions

From Research to Practice

Edited by Nicola F. Dotti

This book provides theories, experiences, reflections and future directions for social scientists who wish to engage with policy-oriented research in cities and regions. The ‘policy learning’ perspective is comprehensively discussed, focusing on actors promoting ‘policy knowledge’ and interaction among different stakeholders. The book also aims to provide practical insights for policy-makers and practitioners interested in research-based approaches to cities and regions.
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Chapter 2: Theories on policy learning: existing approaches and future challenges

Stéphane Moyson and Peter Scholten


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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