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Open Access The lessons of policy learning: types, triggers, hindrances and pathologies

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Policy learning is an attractive proposition, but who learns and for what purposes? Can we learn the wrong lesson? And why do so many attempts to learn what works often fail? In this article, we provide three lessons. First, there are four different modes in which constellations of actors learn. Hence our propositions about learning are conditional on which of the four contexts we refer to. Second, policy learning does not just happen; there are specific hindrances and triggers. Thus, learning can be facilitated by knowing the mechanisms to activate and the likely obstacles. Third, learning itself is a conditional final aim: although the official aspiration of public organisations and politicians is to improve on public policy, policy learning can also be dysfunctional – for an organisation, a policy, a constellation of actors or even democracy.

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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Email: [email protected] 2: Email:

Publication date: April 2018

This article was made available online on April 16, 2018 as a Fast Track article with title: "The lessons of policy learning: types, triggers, hindrances and pathologies".

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