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Once bitten, twice shy: The overgeneralization trap and epistemic learning after policy failure

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  • Derek Beach
  • Sandrino Smeets, Radboud University Nijmegen
Why do smart policy makers who try to learn from policy failure end up overgeneralizing these lessons when facing new crises? This article focuses on the policy learning that can come in the wake of perceived policy failure, and the consequences that lesson learning has for diagnosing and tackling subsequent crises. We argue, in contrast to much of the existing literature, that failure can result in policy learning when the policy area is highly complex and there are recognized
experts that have epistemic authority in the issue. At the same time, lessons tend to become overgeneralized in which policy makers facing a new crisis extrapolate the lessons learned from the past failure with little consideration of whether the circumstances are similar enough to be applicable. Our argument is assessed empirically using a process-tracing analysis of how the EU responded to the Spanish banking crisis in 2012.
TidsskriftPolitics & Policy
Sider (fra-til)1177-1202
Antal sider26
StatusUdgivet - dec. 2022

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