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Instrument Constituencies and Epistemic Community Theory

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Anthony Zito



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


This contribution fleshes out the insights that the epistemic community (EC) approach can make to studying the public policy process and to how policy instruments are formulated and implemented. This contribution places the EC concept in the context of how policy instruments evolve and are supported by a separate network type, the instrument constituency (IC). It studies the conceptual differences between the EC and IC, analyses the conceptual progress and research output of the EC literature, and then reviews the EC literature to develop new analytical propositions about how epistemic communities, in relation to instrument constituencies, shape instrument change. This contribution then explores the value of these network concepts and propositions by examining four United States federal environmental policy instruments. It concludes that there is strong evidence for the role of ICs, and to a lesser extent, ECs, and that such public policy analysis would benefit from a greater network conceptualization.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Zito A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Policy & Society

Year: 2018

Volume: 37

Issue: 1

Pages: 36-58

Online publication date: 22/12/2017

Acceptance date: 12/12/2017

Date deposited: 20/02/2018

ISSN (print): 1449-4035

ISSN (electronic): 1839-3373

Publisher: Taylor and Francis


DOI: 10.1080/14494035.2017.1416929


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