Basically, the brief opportunity when the stars align so that something big can and might happen. Policy windows don’t last long, necessarily, and actors may have to wait quite a while for the next one…
“Kingdon uses the metaphor of a launch window in a space flight mission. If the window is lost, then the launch has to wait until alignments become appropriate again. The successful launch of a policy change is the result of the opening of such a ‘‘window of opportunity’’ in the interplay of multiple streams. In this view, agendas are not just a reflection of power but also depend on chance.”
(Brunner, 2008:502, emphasis added)
“Kingdon used the static metaphor of ‘policy windows’ to capture such future prospects at the agenda stage, but this is a rather awkward mix of stream and non-stream metaphors. More to the point, for someone looking at the entire cycle it can be argued that, as Cohen, March and Olson originally specified, choice opportunities constitute a separate stream akin to a policy development process, one in which collective energies are marshaled at specific points in time in the expectation that a decision will be taken and then appropriate action will be pursued.”
(Howlett, et al. 2015:425.)
Windows have deadlines –
|Recurrent – “embedded in the temporal repertoire of institutions, such as national elections or budget negotiations” (Zaharadias, 2016: 9)|
|Episodic –“externally or internally imposed by say, judges or natural catastrophes” (Zaharadias, 2016: 9)|
Zahariadis, N. 2016. Delphic oracles: ambiguity, institutions, and multiple streams. Policy Science, Vol. 49, pp.3-12.
Crucially, policy entrepreneurs must have good timing, luck and credibility. (So, it helps the maintainers of the no potential policy entrepreneur ever develops too much credibility.)
“Kingdon indicates several examples from a rich repertoire of strategies in which entrepreneurs must engage to achieve successful coupling. In all of these, timing is essential (see also Herweg, 2013; R€ub, 2006). Before a policy window opens, entrepreneurs must already be engaged in preparatory work, the rhetorical “softening up” (Kingdon, 2003, pp. 128, 141) of the political climate for a policy proposal. Logical connections to be made at the time the window opens must be prepared discursively in advance.”
(Winkel and Leipold, 2016:122)
Brunner, S. 2008. Understanding policy change: Multiple streams and emissions trading in Germany. Global Environmental Change, Vol 18, pp.501– 507.
Howlett, M. McConnell, A. and Perl, A. 2015. Streams and stages: Reconciling Kingdon and policy process theory. European Journal of Political Research, Vol. 54, pp.419-434.
Winkel, G. and Leipold, S. 2016. Demolishing Dikes: Multiple Streams and Policy Discourse Analysis. Policy Studies Journal,Vol. 44, (1), pp.108-129.
Howlett, M. 1998. Predictable and Unpredictable Policy Windows: Institutional and Exogenous Correlates of Canadian Federal Agenda-Setting. Canadian Journal of Political Science, Vol.31(3), pp.495-524.