The Kaleidoscope Model of Policy Change: Applications to Food Security Policy in Zambia

Danielle Resnick, Steven Haggblade, Suresh Babu, Sheryl L. Hendriks, David Mather. 2017. The Kaleidoscope Model of Policy Change: Applications to Food Security Policy in Zambia. Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy Research Paper 40. East Lansing: Michigan State University

ABSTRACT
What explains the persistence of socially sub-optimal policies over long periods of time? What factors and forces provoke episodes of policy reform that punctuate long periods of policy inertia? These key questions increasingly concern the international donor and research communities, given the growing need to achieve policy impact with scarce resources.

To address these questions, this paper introduces the Kaleidoscope Model of policy change. Inductively derived from both empirical examples in developing countries and theoretical scholarship on the political economy of reform, the model encompasses a set of 16 operational hypotheses to identify the conditions under which policies emerge on the agenda and ultimately are implemented. The paper tests the model empirically in Zambia by evaluating eight policy reform episodes related to agricultural input subsidies and vitamin A fortification. Empirical application and hypothesis testing relies on rigorous process tracing of policy chronologies through secondary sources and semi-structured interviews with a purposive sample of 58 stakeholders in Zambia. By examining two very distinct policy domains within the same country, we are able to identify which hypotheses prove most robust and which are more policy-specific. In an era of growing pressure on donor resources and government budgets, the Kaleidoscope Model offers a promising framework through which practitioners and researchers can assess when and where investments in policy reforms are most feasible given a country’s underlying political, economic, and institutional characteristics.

KEYWORDS

Agricultural input subsidies, Kaleidoscope Model, micronutrients, policy process, political economy, Zambia

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