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Holy Grail or inflated expectations? The success and failure of integrated policy strategies

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Governments and international organizations increasingly pursue the development of integrated policy strategies to govern persistent societal problems that crosscut the boundaries of traditional jurisdictions. In spite of the rising popularity of such integrated strategies, little is known about their effects. Although it is generally assumed that integrated strategies result in better outcomes, the evidence base to support this claim is sparse. This is not to say that no attempts to study the relationship between integrated strategies and policy outcomes have been undertaken at all; this paper presents a research synthesis of the fragmented evidence base. Eligible studies are interpreted and discussed by using a heuristic that distinguishes between programmatic and political success and failure. Apart from synthesizing the impacts that integrated strategies have had, the paper reflects on associated explanatory conditions and methodological approaches that have been used. The review almost exclusively finds reports of failure and constraining conditions. At the same time, methodological approaches are found to be largely unconvincing and considerable research gaps remain. The paper, therefore, ends with a nuanced answer to the question of whether integrated strategies are worth pursuing and sets out various avenues for further research.
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Keywords: Policy integration; implementation; integrated policy strategy; policy failure; policy outcome; policy success

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Public Administration and Policy Group, Wageningen University, Wageningen, Netherlands

Publication date: November 2, 2017

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