Learning about policy learning. Reflections on the European Employment Strategy

Miriam Hartlapp


The concept of policy learning has been attracting increasing attention in the political science literature, notably in the many publications on the Open Method of Coordination (OMC). However, much research faces fundamental methodological problems regarding the mode of functioning and extent of policy learning. This paper shows that these problems can be avoided if we take a closer look at the potential of the OMC instruments to stimulate learning. The paper differentiates between three types of learning: learning by own experience, learning from others and learning with others. Systematic links are established between them and the learning conditions created by the European Employment Strategy (EES) tools casting doubt on the steering capacity of the EES through learning. Moreover, there is a fundamental contradiction between actor orientation in deliberative policy learning and competitive policy bargaining which questions the learning potential of the EES.


open coordination; employment policy; policy-learning; benchmarking; participation; social policy; European social model; governance; political science

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