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Making Reform Happen

Lessons from OECD Countries

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OECD countries have made significant reform progress in recent decades, in fields as diverse as competition policy, health care and the environment. How have they done it? And why have reforms advanced in some places and stalled in others? This collection of essays analyses the reform experiences of the 30 OECD countries in nine major policy domains in order to identify lessons, pitfalls and strategies that may help foster policy reform in the future. While taking full account of the tremendous differences in the political and institutional settings in which these reforms were undertaken, the authors highlight a number of common challenges and potential solutions that hold good across both countries and issue areas. They show that the scope for cross-national policy learning is enormous.

The importance of such reform lessons is all the greater in the wake of the global financial and economic crisis. As OECD governments confront the challenge of trying to restore public finances to health without undermining the recovery, they will need to pursue a careful mix of fiscal policies and growth-enhancing structural reforms. Designing, adopting and implementing such a policy mix will require the crafting of effective reforms and effective strategies for implementing them.

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Opening markets to competition

This chapter offers an overview of OECD experience in the field of product-market reform and seeks to identify lessons that may assist policy makers in advancing such reforms where unnecessary restraints on entry or competition remain in place. It begins with a summary of market-opening reforms in the OECD before turning to look in greater detail at reform experiences in respect of both internationalisation (foreign trade and foreign investment) and domestic liberalisation. This is followed by a look at the process of product-market reform, including interactions with interest groups, consumers and other stakeholders, the creation of effective institutions to drive and implement reforms, and the complementarities that can be realised when reforms are pursued in a co-ordinated fashion across a number of domains. The major lessons that emerge from this analysis are then summarised in a brief conclusion.

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