Policy Sciences

, Volume 46, Issue 1, pp 1–21 | Cite as

Sorting through the garbage can: under what conditions do governments adopt policy programs?

  • Fritz Sager
  • Yvan Rielle


The paper aims at explaining the adoption of policy programs. We use the garbage can model of organizational choice as our theoretical framework and complement it with the institutional setting of administrative decision-making in order to understand the complex causation of policy program adoption. Institutions distribute decision power by rules and routines and coin actor identities and their interpretations of situations. We therefore expect institutions to play a role when a policy window opens. We explore the configurative explanations for program adoption in a systematic comparison of the adoption of new alcohol policy programs in the Swiss cantons employing Qualitative Comparative Analysis. The most important conditions are the organizational elements of the administrative structure decisive for the coupling of the streams. The results imply that classic bureaucratic structures are better suited to put policies into practice than limited government.


Program adoption Garbage can model Crisp set qualitative comparative analysis (csQCA) Alcohol policy Swiss cantons 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center of Competence for Public ManagementUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland
  2. 2.polsan GmbH—Büro für Politikanalyse und—beratungBernSwitzerland

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