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Policy entrepreneurship across boundaries: a systematic literature review

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 February 2018

Marijn Faling
Public Administration and Policy Group, Wageningen University, The Netherlands E-mail:
Robbert Biesbroek
Public Administration and Policy Group, Wageningen University, The Netherlands E-mail:
Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen
Public Administration and Policy Group, Wageningen University, The Netherlands E-mail:
Katrien Termeer
Public Administration and Policy Group, Wageningen University, The Netherlands E-mail:


Although policy entrepreneurs are assigned an important role in crossing policy boundaries and addressing complex problems, our understanding of the process is limited. This article systematically reviews 51 studies on conditions, strategies and implications of crossboundary entrepreneurship. Findings show that (1) the literature predominantly mentions issue promotion and coalition-building as crossboundary strategies; (2) vertical boundary-crossing is discussed more frequently than horizontal boundary-crossing; (3) the most reported boundary-crossing function is to expand issue arenas; (4) conditions that enable crossboundary strategies include institutional overlap, issue interpretation, power vacuum, overruling policies and lacking resources; and (5) implications of entrepreneurship include raised opposition, increased competition over leadership, augmented complexity hindering collective action, raised costs and resources, and issues regarding trust, legitimacy and authority. Policy entrepreneurship allows for micro-level insights in the emergence of crossboundary processes. We suggest future research to focus on causal processes between conditions, strategies and implications to better understand their interplay.

Research Article
© Cambridge University Press, 2018 

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A previous version of this article was presented at the 9th General Conference of the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) in Montréal, 26–29 August 2015.


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