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Paradigm Shifts and Policy Networks: Cumulative Change in Agriculture*

  • William D. Coleman (a1), Grace D. Skogstad (a2) and Michael M. Atkinson (a3)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 28 November 2008

This article presents an alternative trajectory to policy paradigm change to that outlined by Peter A. Hall's social learning model, in which unsuccessful efforts by state officials to respond to policy failures and anomalies in the existing paradigm eventually trigger a broader, societal, political partisan debate about policy principles. From this society-wide contestation over policy goals, problems, and solutions, a new policy paradigm emerges. Drawing on the conceptual tools of policy feedback and policy networks, this article describes an alternative route to paradigm shift in which change is negotiated between state actors and group representatives. Discussions of change are largely confined to sectoral policy networks and the result is a more managed series of policy changes that culminate in a paradigm shift. This argument for a second, cumulative trajectory to paradigm shift is developed by examining agricultural policy change in three countries: the United States, Canada, and Australia.

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W.D. Coleman and Grace Skogstad (1995) Neo-Liberalism, Policy Networks, and Policy Change: Agricultural Policy Reform in Australia and Canada, Australian Journal of Political Science, 30: 242263.

Pepper D. Culpepper , (1993) Organisational Competition and the Neo-Corporatist Fallacy in French Agriculture, West European Politics, 16, 295315.

Peter A Hall (1993) Policy Paradigms, Social Learning and the State: The Case of Economic Policymaking in Britain, Comparative Politics, 25, 275297.

Bernd Marin (1985) Austria: The Paradigm Case of Liberal Corporatism? in Wyn Grant (ed.) The Political Economy of Corporatism. London, Macmillan, 89125.

Thomas Risse-Kappen (1996) Exploring the Nature of the Beast: International Relations Theory and Comparative Policy Analysis Meet the European Union, Journal of Common Market Studies, 34. 5380.

Fritz W. Scharpf , (1988) The Joint Decision Trap: Lessons from German Federalism and European Integration. Public Administration, 66, 239278.

Fritz W. Scharpf , (1989) Decision Rules, Decision Styles and Policy Choices, Journal of Theoretical Politics, 1, 149176.

Grace Skogstad (1990) The Farm Policy Community and Public Policy in Ontario and Quebec, in Coleman and Skogstad (eds.) Policy Communities and Public Policy in Canada: A Structural Approach. Toronto: Copp Clark Pitman.

Frans van Waarden (1992) Dimensions and types of policy networks. European fournal of Political Research, 21, 2952.

Margaret Weir and Theda Skocpol (1985) State Structures and the Possibilities for ‘Keynesian’ Responses to the Great Depression in Sweden, Britain, and the United States, in Peter B. Evans , Dietrich Rueschemeyer , and Skocpol (eds.) Bringing the State Back In. New York, Cambridge University Press.

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Journal of Public Policy
  • ISSN: 0143-814X
  • EISSN: 1469-7815
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-public-policy
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