Policy experimentation and policy learning in Canadian cultural policy

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This article examines policy experimentation in the context of policy learning in Canadian cultural policy. Despite the attraction of experimentation to encourage learning and thus improved policy outcomes, much of the literature on experimentation does not give sufficient attention to how it is operationalized in practice. Drawing from a novel dataset based on interviews with key actors, this article focuses on how the governance of experimentation impacts learning resulting from experimentation. Findings ultimately demonstrate that while learning occurred, it was constrained overall by a hierarchical, top-down approach to experimentation. Lessons from this case study can therefore be useful for both policy scholars and public administrations embarking on experimentation or other types of public sector innovation in Canada and beyond.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)891–909
Number of pages19
JournalPolicy Sciences
Issue number4
Early online date25 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Canada
  • Cultural policy
  • Governance
  • Policy experimentation
  • Policy learning

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