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Learning in governance: the role of policy entrepreneurs in European climate policy integration

Rietig, Katharina (2014) Learning in governance: the role of policy entrepreneurs in European climate policy integration. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Learning is frequently regarded as facilitating factor for policy outcomes across multiple levels of governance. Learning however competes with alternative explanations such as bargaining, actor’s interests and organisational objectives. This thesis examines from an institutional perspective the link between individual learning of policymakers and learning among governmental institutions and analyses to what extent learning matters for the policy outcome. It finds that policy entrepreneurs play a key role in transferring learning to the organisational level and in achieving policy outcomes. The empirical focus is on learning in climate policy integration, which carries increasing importance for effective environmental governance as it can help create synergies for economic development and climate mitigation. The European Union is a frontrunner in integrating climate objectives into energy, transport and agriculture policy via regulatory instruments setting overall targets and conditioning financial resources upon compliance. This thesis uses qualitative methods to examine learning in the policymaking aspects of climate policy integration at the examples of the Renewable Energy Directive, its controversial biofuels component and the greening measures in the Common Agricultural Policy. This research makes several original contributions to the agency aspects of environmental governance: the meta-theoretical framework on learning allows a more nuanced analysis of what learning aspects occur in governance such as knowledge- and experience-based learning versus changes in different types of underlying beliefs. It also allows determining the extent to which a policy outcome results from learning or alternative explanations. This contribution clarifies the under-researched link between the learning individual, changes in beliefs and the factors hindering learning from being transferred to the organisational level where policy decisions are made. Policy outcomes resulted predominantly from policy entrepreneurs using previously acquired knowledge and experience to achieve a policy outcome aligned with their pre-formed deeper beliefs and policy objectives. Overall, the thesis provides a fresh perspective on the relevance of learning in the policymaking process and of bureaucrats as policy entrepreneurs.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2014 Katharina Rietig
Library of Congress subject classification: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Sets: Departments > Geography and Environment
Supervisor: Perkins, Richard and Mason, Michael

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