Towards productive functions?: A systematic review of institutional failure, its causes and consequences

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Recognised as an integral part of the political process, the topic of institutional failure has recently received increased attention in the literature, particularly with respect to policy failure. Nevertheless, the difference between various types and aspects of failure is unclear conceptually, hampering the development of cumulative theory building into its causes and consequences. Furthermore, while ample attention has been paid to negative consequences, insights into the possibly ‘productive functions’ of failure are scattered and largely remain on the fringes of existing research. The present paper offers a systematic review of the failure literature, particularly its definitions, causes and consequences, setting existing research in the different scholarly fields in relation to each other. Special emphasis is placed on the ways failure may serve to advance the effectiveness and efficacy of public policy and the wider political system, opening ‘windows of opportunity’ as leverage points for institutional change. In doing so, we identify a number of factors which may facilitate or hinder the activation of this productive potential on an individual, institutional, and societal level.
ZeitschriftPolicy Sciences
Seiten (von - bis)281-298
Anzahl der Seiten18
PublikationsstatusErschienen - 06.2019