SUPPORT | May 15, 2019

Why Do Policies Sometimes Fail to Have an Impact?

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This post is part of a four-part series on policy lessons shared by policymakers from across dozens of countries ahead of their participation in the V Startup Nations Ministerial:

  1. Start with a Strong Signal 
  2. Mind the Gap Between Idea and Impact
  3. Overcome Implementation Challenges
  4. Tackle Overlooked Policy Areas



When we spoke to policymakers, many cited the tension between, on one hand, politicians’ desire for pictures, promises, and programs and, on the other hand, execution and implementation. This creates a gap between ideas and impact: no matter how good an idea might be, its impact will be limited if it can’t be successfully implemented.

Why does this gap exist? Here a couple of common trends leading this gap:


a) Silver-bullet thinkingA belief by some that policy actions to help entrepreneurs is “magic,” that a shiny new program is started and then … somehow … the whole ecosystem grows.


b) Time frame mismatch:

  • Program creation often runs ahead of data on performance or impact;
  • The fiscal impact, for government, takes time to show up: 


c) Execution fails:

  • Policies and programs — such as fee structures — may be too complicated for startups and SMEs;
  • A lack of coordination among public sector agencies, or a lack of communication about roles and objectives, can sink a program or policy.
  • Entrepreneurs may not participate in a program or take up a new policy because: a) they are busy working on their companies; or b) they hit obstacles early in their entrepreneurial journey.
  • Not enough is done to prepare the groundwork or environment for new entrepreneurship policies. For example, universities. Policies or programs may try to encourage more entrepreneurship education, but if there is little knowledge or experience there, the institutions won’t help take it forward.


These challenges may be familiar to you, and many of you are working to overcome them in your countries and regions. Let us know about your approach via

In our next post of this series, we unveil some of the ways countries have been overcoming these and other challenges.

Dane Stangler is a Senior Advisor to the Global Entrepreneurship Network. In this capacity, Dane provides research and writing on a variety of… About the author

Cristina Fernández focuses on integrating policymakers into startup ecosystems across the world, creating platforms for them to exchange… About the author