The expediency of policy integration

J.J.L. Candel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Policy integration has come to be known as the Holy Grail of public policy. Given the increased complexity of societal problems, academics and policymakers alike have called for better integrated governance approaches to deal with these problems more effectively. Despite the intuitive appeal of these calls, pursuing policy integration may not always be expedient, as it comes with significant costs and pitfalls. So far, the question of when pursuing policy integration may be considered opportune has remained largely unaddressed in the public policy literature. This article takes up this question and addresses it by discussing two interrelated elements: the desirability and the feasibility of policy integration. The former is reflected upon by synthesizing the main pros and cons that emerge from previous studies. The latter is addressed by proposing a heuristic that evaluates policy integration possibilities based on two key determinants: integrative capacity and leadership. Together, the synthesis and heuristic can serve as a point of departure for more critical reflections on pushes for more policy integration and on how to allocate scarce resources. The other way around, the heuristic allows policy entrepreneurs pushing for integrated “solutions” to focus their attention on the variables that matter most.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)346-361
JournalPolicy Studies
Issue number4
Early online date25 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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