Policy Bubbles

New and intriguing concept in Punctuated Equilibrium

“Drawing on insights from economics, psychology, sociology, political science, and policy sciences, this article proposes a definition and measurement strategies for policy bubbles. A policy bubble is a real and/or perceived policy overreaction that is reinforced by positive feedback over an extended period of time. Positive feedback is here integrated in a model of human herding as the key factor that propels this process but also as a key generator of change. The process is conceptualized in terms of the formation, growth, and burst of policy bubbles. This causal-explanatory understanding of the term allows for the possibility that different modes of policy overreaction lead to different types of human herding, thereby resulting in different types of policy bubbles.”

Maor, M. 2014. Policy Bubbles: Policy Overreaction and Positive Feedback. Governance, Vol. 27, (3), pp.469-487.

and Jones et al, 2014.

We develop the concept of a policy bubble to capture the notion of long-term overinvestment in a policy. In sketching the relation of policy bubbles to economic bubbles, we describe how these two concepts have similar origins but different trajectories because they are filtered by different institutions. We examine in some detail three likely instances of ongoing policy bubbles: crime policy, school reform (charter schools and private education vouchers), and the contracting and privatization of public services. We show how these cases differ from the housing bubble of 1997–2007, how they differ from each other, and the extent to which they can be considered policy bubbles. Last, we suggest this concept can help unify the policy process literature with the practice of policy evaluation and outline testable hypotheses for future research.

Jones, GB. Herschel, F and Wolfe, M. 2014. Policy Bubbles. Policy Studies Journal, Vol. 42 (1), pp.146-171.

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