Keywords: Policy success and Failure; Urban Policies; Interpretative Policy Analysis.
The aim of the article is to find out what a discursive approach can reveal about the role of previous policy success and failure in the making of subsequent decisions. Questions focused on are: how are the categories of success and failure constructed? How are they used in political arenas? Do they actually provide decision makers with opportunities for learning lessons about policy effectiveness, or can they be used instead as a negotiable resource in political bargaining? The article deals with these questions through an analysis of two case studies - France and the United Kingdom - concerning national area-based policies aimed at coping with the economic and social challenges affecting cities. Two dimensions on which discourses and ideas affect the construction of policies in political arenas - «axiomatic» and «pragmatic» - are identified, in which discourses about policy success and failure affect such a process in different ways.