Successful public policies: Behavioral change and reform challenges

Business People Meeting Design Ideas Concept

Assessing and explaining behavioral change challenges

This part of project focuses on general interest public policies that aim at inducing behavioral change in mass populations in relation to ‘wicked problems’. Specifically, it compares the success of drink-driving and climate-adaptation programs in the Netherlands and the UK over the course of a decade. The cases are situated in two different policy domains, with different policy traditions, configurations of organized interests, knowledge bases and intervention repertoires. Examining two types of policy endeavor in two countries allows us to partly control for and partly gauge the impact of institutional and cultural factors.

Assessing and explaining reform challenges 

This part of project focuses on explaining the difference between major general interest public policy reforms that endure and become institutionalized after their initial adoption, and those that are reversed, watered-down or otherwise rendered ineffectual. This study uses data on policy and institutional endurance as the key success measure. It builds upon the path-breaking U.S.-based study of Patashnik* comparing cases of sustained and abandoned/reversed reforms, to gain a more precise insight into the mechanisms that account for different levels of policy endurance. A comprehensive inventory of reforms adopted in the Netherlands between 1980 and 2000 in four policy areas (health policy; financial regulation; housing policy; and public utilities) will be compiled, tracking their longevity through to 2015. Four pair-wise comparisons of successful vs failed reforms in policy area will be constructed. In-depth process-tracing of each case will be performed, and fuzzy set QCA methodology will be employed on all eight cases to test for the prevalence of explanatory conditions gleaned from both the literature and from stakeholder interviews.

*Patashnik, E. (2008), Reform at Risk, Princeton: Princeton University Press

Work in progress

Great Policy Successes. This is a forthcoming volume edited by SPG members Mallory Compton and Paul 't Hart, and to be published by Oxford University Press. Book proposal.

​Successful Public Policy. SPG members Paul ‘t Hart and Joannah Luetjens, together with Michael Mintrom, are involved in a forthcoming edited volume specifically focusing on Antipodean success stories. The volume is to be published by ANU ePress. Book proposal.

Research Project

The Durability of Policy Reforms
By Joannah Luetjens (PhD candidate, MSc)
Under the supervision of Professor Paul 't Hart and Dr. Scott Douglas