Policy entrepreneurship: empirical inquiry into policy agents and institutional structures

Par Marianne Van Der Steen, John Groenewegen


This paper contributes to the discussion to what extent government organizations facilitate or hinder policy-oriented innovations and policy entrepreneurship. More specifically, we try to understand both the characteristics of entrepreneurial policy makers -who are able to break with the organizational routines and initiate new policies- and explore under what conditions these policy makers can be effective in their learning behavior. For this purpose, we provide an in-depth empirical analysis of policy entrepreneurs at the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs from 1990 until1997. Our conclusion is that two archetypes of policy learning occurred: ‘normal policy learning’ and ‘direct policy learning’, each associated with specific local institutional conditions and requiring specific attributes of the entrepreneurial policy makers.
JEL Codes: L32, L26


  • policy entrepreneurship
  • science and technology policy
  • institutional change
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