Do democracies perform better than more autocratic political systems? Most existing literature focuses on single issues, such as maintaining the peace, avoiding famines, or promoting stable economic growth. The key to policy success for all these and other issues is adaptive policymaking in complex, dynamic environments. Relying on theory and empirical tests from policy process studies, we focus on extreme policy punctuations as indicators of maladaptive policymaking. We conceive of a continuum from the most open democracies to the most closed authoritarian systems, with intermediate forms of less open democracies, hybrid regimes, and less closed authoritarian systems. Based on a review of the existing literature, we extract four factors that seem to affect maladaptive and hence more punctuated policymaking: friction imposed by formal rules and informal norms on the policymaking process, the absence of incentives to address problems, centralization in policymaking, and lack of diversity in channels of information. Many of these factors cluster, so it is difficult to discern their specific effects, but our approach allows a start at doing so.