Policy Sciences

, Volume 47, Issue 3, pp 227–247 | Cite as

Designing policies that intentionally stick: policy feedback in a changing climate

  • Andrew JordanEmail author
  • Elah Matt


Policy feedback is a widely used concept, but many who use it only focus on the positive and/or unintentional feedback effects of certain types of policy. The literature as a whole is therefore poorly equipped to make sense of the negative policy feedbacks that often appear in more regulatory areas such as climate change, where target groups are put under pressure to shoulder concentrated costs. Advocates of the ‘new’ policy design have an opportunity to address this gap by exploring how policy makers approach the design of policies that intentionally generate positive policy feedbacks and/or are resilient to negative ones. This paper contributes to that effort by identifying the conditions under which specific instrument designs are likely to have opportunity enhancing and/or constraining effects. It relates these expectations to a design situation where positive feedback seemed unlikely, and hence, the challenge of designing locked-in policies was correspondingly greater. It concludes by drawing on the findings of this exploratory case to investigate what the ‘new’ policy design can do better to explicate the temporal aspects of design.


Policy design Policy feedback Policy instruments Path dependence Climate change 



We are indebted to four referees who kindly provided detailed comments on earlier drafts of this paper. We are of course wholly responsible for any remaining errors and omissions. Andrew acknowledges the support of the Leverhulme Trust (Grant No. F00204AR) and the COST funded Action - INOGOV (No. IS1309).  Andrew and Elah are grateful to the family of Solly Zuckerman, which kindly supported Elah’s PhD work in the School of Environmental Sciences at UEA.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, School of Environmental SciencesUEANorwichUK

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