Median Problem Pressure and Policy Learning: An Exploratory Analysis of European Countries

Part of the International Series on Public Policy book series (ISPP)


This chapter takes a new look at the relationship between problem-solving-oriented (policy) learning and power-oriented (political) learning. I present the results of an explorative and comparative meta-analysis of case studies of social policy reforms in Belgium, Greece, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the UK. I argue that problem-solving-oriented learning is most likely to occur in reforms that are carried out against the background of a ‘median problem pressure’. This implies that only if there is no urgency and it is politically too risky to ignore the policy problem for society, policymakers will learn in a policy-oriented manner.


Policy learning Political learning Power-oriented learning Problem-solving-oriented learning Meta-analysis 



I would like to thank the authors and co-editors of this volume, the members of the Labour Market Colloquium at the University of Lausanne, the participants of the INSPIRES (Innovative Social Policies for Inclusive and Resilient Labour Markets in Europe) research project, and Bernhard Ebbinghaus for helpful comments and suggestions. Furthermore, I am grateful for financial support from the INSPIRES project, which was financed in the 7th Framework Program of the European Union.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Political, Historical, and International StudiesUniversity of LausanneLausanneSwitzerland

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