Testing structuralist and interpretative explanations of policy change

the case of Italy's budget reform

Francesco Stolfi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)


This article compares the relative explanatory power of structuralist and interpretative approaches to the study of policy change. By assessing the fit of these approaches against the actual reform of the formulation, approval, and implementation stages of Italy's budget process in the 1990s, the article shows that structural factors (such as fiscal pressures and changes in the electoral rules) played a key role in the reform of the formulation stage but not in that of the approval and implementation stages, where the content of reform followed the managerialist paradigm endorsed by the Italian reform community. Italy in the 1990s was under considerable pressure to achieve fiscal retrenchment, and the managerialist paradigm advocated measures that were largely antithetical to those that can be deduced from the changes in institutional context. Thus, the Italian case provides an excellent opportunity to assess the relative causal impact of ideas and structure on reform.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-132
Number of pages24
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes

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