Are we addicted to a policy hype cycle?

Posted on December 16, 2011 by

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A few years ago, one of my colleagues proposed an empirical hypothesis about policy hype cycles. After he drew my attention to this hypothesis, I followed it more carefully and I find that there are supporting data from recent years (e.g. climate change, food security, preventive diplomacy).  A possible explanation is that policy, like the consumer market, needs constant novelty. Car companies have to present a sexy new model for the Geneva car show every year, and policy people have to hype a critical new issue. It brings adrenaline into the system and gives the perception of constant dynamism.

The problem is that an issue which moves out of the “policy hype focus” may be forgotten and neglected before it is resolved. These issues will no longer get the attention of politicians and necessary funding. The early demise of a no longer fashionable issue may endanger all of the work done previously.

How do we make sure that important issues don’t get obscured with new topics and concerns? Any argument for/against the “policy hype cycle” hypothesis?