We examine the classic four dimensions of policy style through a new perspective: policy learning. The approach of ‘modes of policy learning’ sheds light on the dynamic dimensions of anticipation, reaction, consensus and imposition that characterise policy styles in terms of problem solving and relationships among actors. What is the learning mode that matches each of the four dimensions of style, and what are these modes good for?

We find that for each of these dimensions there is a particular type or mode of policy learning. By this we mean a mode of learning that seems particularly suited to that dimension. However, other modes of learning can also be empirically found to operate within the four dimensions with their own effects in terms of problem solving. Further, a mode may not be functional to a dimension but can still be empirically present because it empowers a certain constellation of actors. However, particular modes of learning are not chosen by actors writing on blank sheet. They are selected within particular conditions defining the institutional, political and administrative context.