Paper presented at the South African Association of Public Administration and Management (SAAPAM) 10th Annual Conference, Boardwalk, Port Elizabeth, 7-9 October 2009. The Conference theme was "The changing face of leadership and governance: adapt, influence, sustain".
Surprisingly little policy and cross-national policy learning seem to influence policy design and formulation in a particular jurisdiction. The article addresses the issue of policy learning and to what extent it contributes to real policy change. All policy implementation should foster policy learning. The article explores the debate surrounding and value of policy learning in various contexts. Upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that there are different kinds of policy learning, including instrumental, social and political learning. The basis for learning
includes aspects such as how conscious learning is, its object, who learns, and the status of learning in the policy lierature. Policy change is often not the result of learning, although it can occur because of learning. The trial-and-error process of policy learning often has more long-lasting effects than learning from successes. Different kinds of policy learning and especially a combination of different kinds
of learning can contribute to meaningful policy change and improved service delivery. One only knows learning has occurred once policy change has taken place. What is learned is what is remembered, but how do organisations deal with policy intelligence? Organisational and intra-organisational learning could stimulate common learning in government and its various institutions.