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Ideas and Policy Change

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Abstract

Peter Hall's 1993 article came at the same time as a parallel body of literature was developing, some building explicitly, some only implicitly, on similar ideas. I review some literature on policy communities, ideas, and the nature of policy change before exploring the statistical distribution of budget changes at three levels of aggregation. The similarity of these results suggests that a single process may be at work rather than different processes for first-, second-, and third-order change, as Hall's original formulation has it. As Hall suggests, these processes typically generate only marginal adjustments but occasionally create fundamental change. The degree of discredit to the status quo may be an important unexplored variable in explaining the ability of policy reformers to enact marginal, substantial, or fundamental policy changes. In sum, this article shows the similarities and mutual value of Hall's approach with others that would appear to be starkly contrasting.

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