|Title||Policy windows, policy change, and organizational learning: watersheds in the evolution of watershed management|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2006|
|Authors||Michaels S., Goucher N.P, McCarthy D.|
|Keywords||environmental policy change, focusing events, organizational learning, policy windows, watershed management|
Examines practitioner identified focusing events at regional level through the mechanisms of policy windows, agenda setting and organizational learning.
Focusing events involve occurrences that, through their actual or potential for significant harm, act as drivers of change. This article recognises that the role of agenda setting and policy-oriented organisational learning, resulting from focusing events, has been under-studied in the regional context. Studies also tend to privilege the perspective of the researcher, rather than the practitioner. Policy windows and organisational learning associated with focusing events vary in duration. For example, windows for enacting legislative change may be substantially more limited than for non-legislative change. From a practitioner perspective, particular policy windows can be quite enduring and influence organisational learning for substantial periods following a focusing event. This practitioner view is sometimes contrary to an alternative view of policy windows and associated learning as being limited both in depth and duration. For practitioners, the implications of focusing events for organisational learning can be enduring and influence behaviours and agenda-setting sometimes for decades. This behaviour is often reactive in nature, however, due to dependencies created across jurisdictional and other scales.
Learning associated with disasters, or focusing events, is often portrayed as limited in its scope. This is at least partially due to the perception that public and official interest in events tend to shift rapidly, in some cases to the next focusing event. This article suggests that this perception is substantially different for a practitioners view, who continue to be influenced over time as they are left with the task of enacting specific responses triggered by events. This is particularly the case in regional jurisdictions, where changes in decentralised governance requires practitioners to manage the agenda setting and decision-making resulting from other levels. These enlarged policy windows provide an opportunity for adaptive organisational learning; however, mechanisms for more proactive responses from practitioners are needed which may also help to expand windows for legislative change where appropriate.