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Avoiding Blame—A Comprehensive Framework and the Australian Home Insulation Program Fiasco

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Hinterleitner Markus, Sager Fritz,
Project Assessing Blame Avoidance Behavior
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Policy Studies Journal
Page(s) 139 - 161
Title of proceedings Policy Studies Journal
DOI 10.1111/psj.12088

Open Access

Type of Open Access Repository (Green Open Access)


It is widely acknowledged in the literature that the study of blame avoidance behavior (BAB) exhibited by public officials is scattered and unconcentrated, and that, for the most part, it neglects both contextual factors and comparative research. These deficits inhibit the production of the kind of generalized findings necessary to better understand potential consequences for the policy process and the workings of political systems. We address these deficits by developing a framework that takes stock of blame avoidance research, clarifies the explanatory potential of contextual factors, and allows for a systematic context-sensitive cross-case analysis. For illustrative purposes, the framework is applied to the Home Insulation Program in Australia as a critical case. This case reveals the explanatory potential of contextual factors for the understanding of BAB and the consequences thereof. We conclude by stating the advantages of our framework and explain how it can be used for comparative research. KEY WORDS: blame avoidance behavior (BAB), actor-centered institutionalism (ACI), context, comprehensive framework, Home Insulation Program, Australia