Policy Learning Theory Derived from Russian Power Sector Liberalisation Policy Experience

  • Marcel Lamoureux

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


This research project was grounded in, and built upon, the philosophical work of Gaston Bachelard (noumenon), David Hume (causation), and Christopher Peacocke (conception and perception) which included philosophical and social scientific analyses of transnational public policy learning, praxis, and change.

Accordingly, as an inductive case study, the research aimed to derive new elements of philosophical analysis and transnational policy learning theory from Russian power sector liberalisation policy experience from 2001 to 2007. In the course of the research, policy learning was identified in the form of principles, conceptualisation, and philosophical frameworks that indicated causal mechanisms and causal paths in policy formulation, change, direction of change, and outcome. To provide an investigative platform for this, the study aimed to capture the perceptions related to Russian policy learning and adaptation of three primary policy community groups. These groups included domestic energy researchers, industrial informants, and economists with a high degree of involvement in power sector policy conceptualization and development.

Gaps were identified, both empirically and theoretically, in the area of policy learning as applied to the ‘conceptual’ transfer of power sector liberalisation policy experience from market-oriented countries to Russia. Existing scholarly research in the field did not adequately answer questions such as how Russian policy stakeholders should learn from and perceive externally derived policy experiences, and which examples should be utilized and why.

The philosophical and empirical research results identified learning frameworks derived from the Russian ‘conceptual’ process used to diversify policy learning by simultaneously investigating relevant policy experience in the U.S, Europe, Britain, and Asia. Russian policy stakeholders studied necessary conditions for competitive power markets, as well as objectives and limitations. Unexpected events occurring in the model economies were identified by the Russian policy network, and they responded to the new knowledge by reintegrating it into the original policy adaptation process. The results also identified ‘planning’ as a major framework category and conceptual follow-on within Russian policy learning that constituted evolving criteria for establishing transitional phases of policy implementation. The results also identified ‘implementation’ as an integration of policy and objectives within the learning framework.

The results of the research derived from the data are policy principles and policy learning philosophical frameworks which are limited in application inasmuch as they reflect the experience of a former centrally planned economy and the liberalisation of a networked industry. In that context, the philosophical frameworks are heuristic in that they provide a new structure for policy learning and discovery within the Russian context. The philosophical frameworks, as a means to critically analyse and construct policy, have applicability in Russian public sector and private sector actualisation and analysis. They can be used to plan for new policy and analyse existing Russian government policy regarding the transfer of international policy experience to the domestic setting. The philosophical frameworks provide a limited purview of underlying landmarks and systems for the transnational policy learning and transfer process.

The original contribution to knowledge includes an extension of the philosophy of science and political science concerning human understanding of noumenon, phenomenon, causation, conception, and perception; and a more holistic explanation of the policy process and conceptual change associated with it. Largely built upon the philosophical work of Gaston Bachelard, the results provide insight into the philosophical principles and mechanics of policy, institutional change, and a critical analysis of implementation within that context. The results of the research also point to the need for further philosophical and empirical investigations into questions pertaining to the optimal factors necessary for policy learning, diffusion, and perception across nations, and what constitutes compatibility between the cognitive policy model and the adaptive political entity.
Date of Award2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Glasgow Caledonian University
SupervisorMargaret-Anne Houston (Supervisor), Stephen Bailey (Supervisor) & Alan Hutton (Supervisor)

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