The selection of policy instruments: a network-based perspective

Johannes T.A. Bressers, Laurence J. O'Toole

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The concepts of policy instruments and policy networks have played important roles in recent theoretical development on public policy, as research in several nations attests. These notions, however, have largely been considered in isolation from each other. Here a simple typology of policy networks is used to help explain the selection of different kinds of instruments by governments. Several instrument characteristics are considered for the expected impact of network features on instrument selection, and a set of propositions is developed that matches degrees of network interconnectedness and cohesion with the choice of different kinds of instruments – such as regulations, subsidies, and covenants. Examples from different national and policy-sectoral contexts are used to indicate the plausibility of the argument. The article suggests that considering network attributes can be useful in understanding governments' choice of instruments and can strengthen extant discussions largely focused on such variables as learning and policy style
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)213-239
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of public policy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • METIS-100218
  • IR-1681

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