Pennsylvania University Press
Previous research has demonstrated that social institutions – relatively enduring norms, values and procedures important to a society – structure the behavior of policy actors. In addition, theorists have argued that interdependent networks of policy actors contribute to both institutional change – as policy entrepreneurs – and institutional stability – as advocacy coalitions. However, social scientists and legal scholars have yet to examine fully the processes by which policy entrepreneurs, embedded in networks of interdependent actors can contribute to institutional change. This chapter examines the social institutions that structure the behavior of policy actors involved in promoting the accessibility of information and communication technology for persons with disabilities in the European Union (EU), and asks, “How can policy networks provide an opportunity for policy entrepreneurs to contribute to institutional change?” Following the adoption of the United Nations (UN) Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2006, ratification of the CRPD by the EU and 157 other national governments recognized the role of persons with disabilities and their representative organizations in decision-making processes, including in shaping norms and legislations that affect the enjoyment of their fundamental rights. This chapter borrows the concept of a “pivot” – a strategic course correction – from research on technology development and entrepreneurship to argue that policy entrepreneurs can pivot by identifying the social institutions that structure the behaviors of policy actors and redirecting existing advocacy efforts to support institutional change. It illustrates the implications of the results for policy entrepreneurs in the Global South using examples from Mozambique and Kenya.
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