Kristin Taylor, Nathan Jeschke & Stephanie Zarb
In spite of the best efforts of government, sometimes policies do not work as designed. As scholars of the policy process and citizens in a representative democracy, our normative expectation is that government should learn when policies do not work to improve outcomes for communities. This is especially true in the wake of a natural disaster. Disasters can serve as an opportunity for governments to engage in policy learning by updating beliefs about policies and learning lessons about policy tools, instruments, and politics. Often, disasters can reveal physical and social vulnerabilities and gaps in preparedness that unevenly distribute the risk of damage within a community. In our recent article in Policy & Politics , we investigate which conditions constrain or promote policy learning. Understanding these conditions is of critical importance in gaining a better understanding of why some governments learn to improve policies after a disaster and some do not.
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Policy & Politics Editorial Advisory Board Member Eva Sorensen (Roskilde University) and Co-editor Sarah Ayres (Bristol University) co-chaired a panel on the first session of the 2017 European Consortium for Political Research Conference (ECPR) in Oslo, Norway.
The panel drew together a number of international scholars to examine how political leadership is enacted in interactive governance arenas. Gro Sandkjaer Hanssen (Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research) acted as discussant and drew attention to the range of policy and governance theories underpinning the analysis and the benefits of international comparative research.
Panelists debated the fact that local governments are facing a growing number of wicked and unruly problems that call for the exercise of political leadership that defines the problems and challenges at hand, designs new and innovative solutions and mobilizes support for their implementation. Unfortunately, many local councilors tend to spend most of their time acting as complaints services for the citizens, advanced case managers engaged in detail-regulation and controllers of the conduct of public bureaucracy. Consequently, they fail to exercise the kind of political leadership that is needed to deal with the deep-seated and emerging problems that confront local communities in times of crisis and turbulence. The result of this failure is a steady decline in political trust and a paralysis of local democracy that may trigger the rise of authoritarian populism. Continue reading →