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Evolving policy mixes and the EPOM exploration
We had high expectations on the issue of policy mixes, one of the 6 priority lines identified on evolving rationales for public intervention, especially following the preparatory events that took place at SPRU (see Prime TN final report). There we hypothesised that our view of normative rationales based mostly on economic theory did not capture the de facto dynamics of policy making. Collaborative research programmes was a case in point where the first academic articles arrived at least 5 years after they had been initiated. We thus considered that there could be rationales arising from policy practice, with as large dissemination and embedding than theory-driven rationales. PRIME thus supported an exploratory project (EPOM, 2005-2006) which gave rise to a very interesting set of findings (Bach 2007) distinguishing “production policy rationales and “governance policy rationales. The former rely on scientific insights, on theoretical frameworks of knowledge creation which justify public intervention and define the types of policies required. The latter, on the contrary, reflect causal beliefs in the political system about how the state should govern and rule. What was demonstrated is that both must be taken into account to explain sectoral policy design. It also became clear that, taking both into account and connecting them to dominant path dependency, drove to highlight time dimensions and the existence of “windows of opportunity”. Problems arose when willing to implement this approach at the level of effective policies. What should we understand by a policy mix ? Basically initial steps drove to recognise the existence of different types of policy rationales (an initial typology of each was made recognising 5 main production PR and 6 main Governance PR) and of different ways in which they are articulated (3 archetypical situations were sketched and tested driving to two empirical observations : the existence of a dominant pattern in each country with in some cases a shift over time associated to the second observation of an on-going “rationale struggle”). However whatever articulation was arrived at, initial observations also drove to recognise the existence of lasting mixes in the choice of policy tools associated to these rationales and in the ways and structures to implement them. All this remained at this stage, is available in conference papers and in reports, is mobilised and cited by colleagues but has not driven to specific publications or to specific projects aiming at converting these intuitions into robust demonstrations.

Julie

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