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National University of Singapore logEssentials:

  • Workshop Date: February 19-21, 2014
  • Location: National University of Singapore
  • Submissions Due: November 1, 2013
  • Send Submissions to [email protected]


Policy failures present a valuable opportunity for policy learning, but this potential has been largely overlooked by both practitioners and researchers. Although the likelihood of policy failure is at least as high as policy success, the existing literature has focused disproportionately on the latter. Compared to the large volume of publications on  “good practices” and “best practices”, little scholarly attention has been paid to “bad practices” or “worst practices” despite their widespread prevalence. As a result, public officials have failed to learn valuable lessons from these experiences.

Labeling of policies as “success” or “failure” is also often misused in public debates  to seek partisan political advantages making it difficult to understand its dynamics from a technical perspective. And many policy studies have also focused on programme-related sources failures while recent research has increasingly identified political and process failures, focusing on shortcoming in the decision-making and other stages of the policy process such as policy formulation, as common sources of failure.

This workshop aims to bring together scholars to address these and other key theoretical and practical issues concerning policy failure. Answers will be sought to such questions as: How do we recognize a policy failure? What are different types of policy failures? What are the factors and dynamics that contribute to different types of policy failures? Which policy failures are avoidable and which are not, and how can they be prevented? Can policies de designed to withstand failure? And what are the potential mechanisms to promote policy learning through a better understanding of policy failures? These questions can be addressed from a theoretical or empirical perspective or, ideally, both.

Successful paper proposals will be eligible for full cost subsidies for air travel, meals and accommodation in Singapore.

The present call for proposals is the first stage in the selection of papers. Potential presenters are asked to provide an initial short 1-2 paragraph description of their topic and how it fits into the conference theme no later than November 1, 2013. Successful proposers will be asked to provide a longer 2-3 page synopsis of their paper and argument by December 1, 2013 and final decisions on acceptances will be sent out no later than December 15, 2013. Final papers will be due February 5, 2014 for circulation to all conference participants two weeks before the workshop

Please send your proposals to: “[email protected]


Wu Xun, Michael Howlett, M Ramesh,

Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy

National University of Singapore

469C Bukit Timah Road, Singapore 259772