In explaining policy reform, there is a tendency to assume that causes and outcomes are temporally contiguous and that the consequences of reform efforts unfold quickly. There is no obvious reason, theoretical or empirical, why this should be the case when considering the relationships between policy failure and policy success. This paper considers why and how policy failures may be causally linked to future policy events in sequences over extended periods of time. In particular, this paper focuses on the different mechanisms that might connect assessments of policy failure and subsequent reform success. Empirically, it draws on selected evidence from patterns of policy failures and successes in Australian health policy over a 40-year time period.
Research funded by the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG).