Collaboration among multiple stakeholders is crucial in decentralised governance settings. The success of such collaboration hinges upon collaborative learning–the acquiring, translating, and disseminating of policy-relevant knowledge. However, despite much research, a knowledge gap persists in the public policy literature on the relationship between learning and policy change. It is debated whether learning is necessary and sufficient for policy change, and if so, under what conditions. To contribute to this debate, this paper examined whether collaborative learning has had any impact on the emergence and implementation of sustainable urban drainage systems (SuDS) in Leicester, England. We first examined implementation of SuDS in Leicester, and then study collaborative learning focused on SuDS. We found that implementation of SuDS in Leicester is marginal despite active collaborative learning that has resulted in the change in beliefs and attitudes towards SuDS among all policy actors in the setting. Social dynamics factors and leadership of two SuDS champions proved crucial for collaborative learning. We conclude that collaborative learning, while essential for legitimacy of a policy innovation, is not sufficient for policy change and a national legal and institutional framework is required to incentivise broader SuDS practices in Leicester and England.

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Keywords collaborative learning, Decentralisation, Leicester, policy innovation
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Journal Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning
Mukhtarov, F. (Farhad), Dieperink, C. (Carel), Driessen, P.P.J, & Riley, J. (Janet). (2019). Collaborative learning for policy innovations: sustainable urban drainage systems in Leicester, England. Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning. doi:10.1080/1523908X.2019.1627864