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Disputed policy change: the role of external events, policy learning and negotiated agreements in coastal and marine conservation planning.

Conference contribution
Authors Annica Sandström
Andrea Morf
Daniel Fjällborg
Published in Paper presented at the 2018 conference of the European Consortium for Political Research
Publication year 2018
Published at University Administration
Swedish Institute for the Marine Environment
School of Global Studies, Human Ecology
Language en
Keywords Advocacy coalition framework, Biodiversity conservation, Conservation, Marine protected areas, National parks, National park planning, Policy change, Policy coalitions, Policy learning, Policy brokers, triggering events
Subject categories Public Administration Studies, Agricultural Biotechnology, Nature conservation and landscape management, Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use, Social Sciences Interdisciplinary


What are the driving forces behind and obstacles to policy change in disputed policy processes? The general purpose of this paper is to explore and explain policy change – a major and debated issue in contemporary policy research – in the context of Swedish coastal and marine conservation planning. The paper draws on the advocacy coalition framework that accentuates the critical role of coalitions for the outcome of policy processes and identifies three primarily drivers to policy change: triggering key events, policy learning and negotiations via brokerage. Three national park planning processes, with divergent results, are mapped and analysed over 30 years time through a document- and interview study. What combination of factors in relation to policy coalitions – triggering events, policy learning and negotiated agreements – can explain divergent outcomes in the studied national park planning processes? The empirical analysis identified all three factors as important for the turnout. Triggering events, in combination with either negotiated agreements or policy learning, were the main pathways to change and our findings suggest that the type of policy beliefs around which the competing coalitions are formed influenced the specific route taken The results of the study contribute with knowledge on disputed policy change and give rise to new intriguing questions; they provide an empirical illustration of political conflicts and their solutions in nature conservation, and generate insights critical to the implementation of international and national conservation policy in multi-level governance systems.

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