We now turn to one of the most central topics in the study of public policy; namely, the patterns and sources of policy change. Policy change is again an issue that cuts across the different stages of the policy cycle and therefore allows us to combine different analytical concepts and theoretical perspectives. The causes of policy change can be found in the outcomes of the processes taking place at individual stages such as agenda-setting, implementation problems or (negative) evaluation outcomes. In addition, the theories discussed in the context of decision-making may be equally helpful in scrutinizing the events of policy change. The institutional characteristics of polities again prove to be important for facilitating or impeding policy change. However, there also exists a specific set of policy process theories that specifically aim at explaining the occurrence of policy change. In the second step, we will turn to cross-national policy convergence, where we address the question of the extent to which national policies become more similar over time. We discuss basic types and dimensions of the convergence concept and differentiate it from related concepts, including policy transfer, policy diffusion and isomorphism. Based on this discussion, the third step focuses on the causes and conditions that trigger cross-national policy convergence.
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