Strangers at the gate: the role of multidimensional ideas, policy anomalies and institutional gatekeepers in biofuel policy developments in the USA and European Union

  • Grace Skogstad
  • Matt WilderEmail author
Research Article


This article contributes to scholarly understanding of how policy ideas and institutions interact to affect policy change by investigating why legislation mandating the use of biofuels in transport vehicles has been upheld in the USA but scaled back in the European Union. To explain this puzzle, the article advances propositions regarding the role of multidimensional policy ideas, policy anomalies and institutional gatekeepers in legislative agenda-setting. Using structural topic modelling and qualitative methods, the analyses demonstrate that differences in action frames follow from agenda-setting institutions. The corporate structure of the European Commission ensures that EU agenda-setters are reasonably attentive to policy anomalies. By contrast, individuals with agenda-setting authority in the US Congress are liable to discount anomalies by limiting their focus to certain aspects of multidimensional policy issues. Moreover, individuals with gatekeeping authority may prevent repeal bills from accessing the legislative agenda.


Action frames Agenda-setting Institutional gatekeeping Policy anomalies Policy change Policy ideas 



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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of TorontoTorontoCanada

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