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, as well as ‘social learning’ approaches – before pointing to their common characteristics: a consideration for the long run; a focus on the role of state but also non-state actors in policy processes; and a recognition that policy actors’ rationality is ‘bounded’. Then, we discuss three challenges of future research: deepening our knowledge on 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.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Advocacy Coalition Framework, Behavioural, Epistemic communities, Governmental learning, Literature review, Organizational learning, Policy change, Policy convergence, Policy diffusion, Policy learning, Policy transfer, Social learning.
ISBN 978-1-78643-363-3
Persistent URL hdl.handle.net/1765/113574
Scholten, P.W.A. (2018). Theories on policy learning: existing approaches and future challenges. In Knowledge, policymaking and learning for European cities and regions. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/113574