Why do so many government policies fail to achieve their objectives? Why are our political leaders not held to account for policy failures?
Drawing on his years of experience as a senior government policy maker, as well as on global research, Stephen Muers uses examples ranging from the collapse of the Soviet Union to Cold War Germany, the election of Donald Trump and the Brexit referendum to expose the crucial impact culture and values have on policy success and political accountability.
This illuminating study sets out why policy makers need to take culture seriously, how culture and values shape the political system and presents essential, practical recommendations for what governments should do differently.
“This remarkably engaging book contains a fascinating insider’s account. Muers engages with important topics – including ministerial frustration with a lack of implementation – that would interest academics, students and practitioners of policy.” Paul Cairney, University of Stirling
"A brilliant mixture of big ideas and practical examples. This highly readable book is essential reading for those beginning a career in policy making. I wish I had read it when I started my own career." Matthew Taylor, The RSA
“A compelling and original argument about the importance of culture and values in policy making, drawing on academic literature and practical experience” Tom Sasse, Institute for Government
Stephen Muers has held a wide range of senior policy-making roles. He is currently Head of Strategy at Big Society Capital and Policy Fellow at the Institute of Policy Research, University of Bath.
What are culture and values?
Part One: Why culture and values matter for public policy
Culture determines whether policies work
Culture and values determine whether policies are legitimate
Arguments about values and the purpose of democracy
Governments can't help affecting culture
Part Two: How culture and values shape the political system
Accountability in a values-driven system
Part Three: How policy makers can take culture seriously
Taking symbols seriously
Doing more locally
Being smart about evidence