Upscaling from Individual to Collective Learning in Policy Process Research
35 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2010 Last revised: 7 Sep 2010
Date Written: 2010
Although learning is one of the most widely-acknowledged determinants shaping policy processes, the concept remains theoretically and methodologically under-developed in the policy process literature. Most notably, there is an incomplete understanding of the factors affecting “upscaling,” or moving from individual-level learning to collective-level learning. As learning continues to occupy research agendas of policy process research, this paper seeks to provide insights from the diverse social science literatures that examine individual learning in collective context to better understand the nature of the learning process and learning products, and the factors that support learning. We examine the treatment of learning within two major policy process frameworks -- the advocacy coalition framework and institutional analysis and development framework -- and compare how they define learning and what insights they offer for understanding how learning translates from the individual to collective level. In understanding the translation from individual to collective level learning, we focus on the explanatory factors that can be gleaned from both frameworks to explain how and when learning is likely to upscale from individual to collective levels. We identify important complementarities between the two frameworks in examining these factors and conclude with developing a set of propositions for studying learning in policy processes. These propositions highlight how the nature of the issue of concern, characteristics of the collective actors, and characteristics of the institutions governing a collective setting will all factor into the likelihood of learning emerging in policy processes.
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