Zombie Ideas: Policy pendulum and the challenge of effective policymaking


  • B. Guy Peters University of Pittsburgh
  • Maximilian L. Nagel Deloitte Consulting Germany




Policy ideas, Zombie ideas, Policy pendulum, Path dependence, Majoritarian politics


Ideas are important as a foundation for public policy, but they can also become ‘zombie ideas’ which survive even though they have been proven to be ineffective. Both the political right and the political left have their own zombie ideas, and when there is a change in government old ideas may return. This article presents the concept of zombie ideas and discusses its relevance for policy in New Zealand.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

B. Guy Peters, University of Pittsburgh

B. Guy Peters is Maurice Falk Professor of Government at the University of Pittsburgh. He was founding president of the International Public Policy Association and is editor of the International Review of Public Policy. His recent books include Political Patronage in Asian Bureaucracies and Administrative Traditions.

Maximilian L. Nagel, Deloitte Consulting Germany

Maximilian L. Nagel is manager at Deloitte Consulting Germany. He is a visiting scholar at Helmut Schmidt University, Hamburg. His research focuses on policy analysis, street-level bureaucracy, comparative governance and digitalisation. His recent book (with Guy Peters) is Zombie Ideas: why do failed ideas persist?