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Learning, governance and economic policy

Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)500 - 524
Number of pages25
JournalBritish Journal of Politics and International Relations
StatePublished - 2003


This article examines the relationship between economic policy networks and policy learning during the 1960s, using recently released files to flesh out the operation of both networks and learning. It finds that policy failure in the 1950s brought into being a new policy network which was able to secure a radical shift in the economic policy of the core executive in the early 1960s. However, it then proved impossible to craft, implement and sustain a coherent and enduring set of new policies within the new policy framework due to the ability of competing networks to resist central control. This leads to three conclusions. First, peripheral actors may obtain influence over policy-making in the core executive by means of a policy network. Second, policy learning does not necessarily generate policy change of a similar order because, whilst networks may facilitate learning, competing networks may block the translation of this learning into effective policies. Third, ‘governance’ is not solely a phenomenon of the years since 1979: in the 1960s the British core executive was already operating within a polity characterised by fragmentation, inter-dependency and self-organising policy networks.

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Publisher: Blackwell Publishing

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