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The dynamics of policy change: lobbying and water privatization

Richardson, J.J. and Maloney, W.A. and Rudig, Wolfgang (1992) The dynamics of policy change: lobbying and water privatization. Public Administration, 70 (2). pp. 157-175. ISSN 0033-3298

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The privatization of the water industry was one of the most controversial and turbulent privatizations of the 1980s. The government undertook the project somewhat reluctantly, then the first plans had to be withdrawn, but eventually, the privatization of the industry was successfully completed in 1989. In this article, we first set out to provide a thorough account of the process of privatizing water, based on primary sources and exhaustive interviews. In doing so, we identity some major problems of established theories of British policy making: the process of water privatization clearly does not conform to any single model of policy making. Instead, individual ‘episodes’ of the policy process conform to different models. Arguing that existing theories of British policy making may have focused too narrowly on routine decision-making processes, we propose that a theory of the transformation of policy communities is required to understand the dynamics of radical policy change in Britain.