Published on 19 February 2019
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Policy Success and Failure

Policy Success and Failure: Embedding Effective Learning in Government

Dr Oliver Daddow (University of Nottingham)

Published: February 2019

What constitutes success and failure in public policy?

The focus on the effectiveness of policy delivery by modern governments has thrust questions of policy success and failure firmly into the spotlight. But how do policy-makers interpret and learn from policy successes and failures? How do policy-makers use expert evidence to inform their decisions in the first place? How does policy learning take place and what can different national polities learn from each other about best practice in policy-making? How can we embed a culture of effective policy learning in institutions and governments?

In November 2018, the Bennett Institute for Public Policy, Cambridge, brought together practitioners, academics and other policy stakeholders to seek answers to these vital questions on a collaborative basis, using case studies from the UK and internationally. [1]

This report offers:

  • Two pages of topline recommendations for practitioners on how to make successful policy
  • A summary of the event’s key conclusions across the three main areas that emerged on the day: 
  1. How do policy-makers define success and failure in public policy?
  2. How do policy-makers learn lessons from policy successes and failures?
  3. What roles do evidence and expert advisers play in the policy-making process?

[1] We are grateful to all the speakers for their fascinating contributions, to Yvette Cooper, MP, for her plenary address, and to the audience for their thought-provoking questions and discussion points. Our thanks also to Barbara Bennett, Benjamin Goodair and Julia Wdowin for their helpful notes from the conference, to Lindsay Aqui and Lucy Theobald for their editorial support, and to St Catharine’s College for hosting the event.

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