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Do crises help remedy regulatory failure? A comparative study of the Walkerton water and Jerusalem banquet hall disasters

Schwartz, R. and McConnell, Allan (2009) Do crises help remedy regulatory failure? A comparative study of the Walkerton water and Jerusalem banquet hall disasters. Canadian Public Administration, 52 (1). pp. 91-112. ISSN 0008-4840

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Abstract

This study explores whether and how policy changes in the aftermath of a crisis. The authors ask why pre-existing regulatory regimes that are identified as contributory factors to "failure" are not necessarily reformed in the wake of a crisis. The investigation adds to the literature that addresses the classic tension between reformism and conservatism in post-crisis periods. Regulatory failure is identified as being largely responsible for two crises - the tainted drinking-water tragedy in Walkerton, Canada, and the collapse of a banquet hall in Jerusalem, Israel. Despite similarities in the nature of media coverage, institutional procedures for investigation and commission findings, these two tragedies differ dramatically in policy change outcomes. A policy streams prism is used to identify, characterize and analyse reasons for very different policy responses to crises associated with regulatory failure.