T01P01 - Policy Transfer: Innovations in Theory and Practice

Topic : Policy Process Theories

Panel Chair : Leslie Pal - lesliepal@gmail.com

Panel Second Chair : Christopher Walker - c.walker@unsw.edu.au

Objectives and Scientific Relevance of the panel

Policy transfer among states continues to attract scholarly attention, and the literature now has grown exponentially in at least six broad streams (see (Hadjiisky, Pal, & Walker, forthcoming 2017): (1) diffusion/learning/policy transfer focused on public policy dynamics (players, processes, and institutions) and transfer as largely a process of choice (D. Dolowitz & Marsh, 1996, 2000; D. P. Dolowitz & Marsh, 2012; Rose, 1993, 2005; Wolman, 1992); (2) development and transfer of governance models (Andrews, 2012, 2013; Rodrik, 1996, 2006; Williamson, 1993); (3) international relations/international governmental organizations and their independent role in transfer (Abbott, Genschel, Snidal, & Zangl, 2015; Barnett & Finnemore, 1999; Finnemore & Sikkink, 1998); (4) global public policy networks (Haas, 1992; Stone, 2013); (5) Europeanization (Leuffen, Rittberger, & Schimmelfennig, 2013); and (6) policy mobilities (Peck & Theodore, 2015: 5; Temenos & McCann, 2013; Ward, 2011).

Despite this development in research, the field remains undertheorized (Benson & Jordan, 2011, 2012), and heavily focused on conventional dynamics: state-to-state transfers; North-South; the main international organizations. Very little work has examined non-state transfers through, for example, the role of the consultants or industry associations, or the growing number of South-South, and even in some cases, South-North transfers. There is almost nothing on the transfer of policy-enabling technologies such as GPS monitoring and surveillance in trans-border shipments, operating systems, or management software. The transfer of policy models through training, education, study tours, or exchanges is largely ignored. This suggests that within the policy transfer field more needs to be done to examine the nature of policy tools being transferred and how such tools fare in the transfer process.

The panel will invite papers that will extend and deepen work in the field in two ways. The first is to focus on theory building, to innovate and renovate our thinking about policy transfer by widening the lens to include more players, wider dynamics, and better empirical data. The second is to encourage submissions of research on innovative practices in transfer that go beyond the tired metaphor of the “toolkit” or, at best, “policy models.” We know that practitioners have a strong appetite for innovation and for what they see as “lessons”. We also know that transfer agents can face resistance when “selling” their products, as well as competition from other agents working the field (e.g., consultants or other international organizations). As a result, they look for innovative ways to transfer. Scholarly work needs to be alive to this dynamic, to be more critical of the transferability of specific policy tools, and to reflect this better in a more developed theoretical framework.  

Call for papers

The policy transfer literature has grown in depth and scope, but still tends to focus on state-to-state transfers of conventional policy models, tools, and legislation. This panel invites papers that consider innovations in policy transfer, and the policy transfer of innovations. In particular, we invite papers that consider (1) unconventional actors in policy transfer (e.g., consultants, private sector, non-governmental organizations, etc.), (2) non-traditional geographical diffusion patterns (e.g., South-South, South-North; across Muslim states; across Southeast Asian states); (3) multiple levels of transfer (e.g., from national to local, or local to national), (4) unusual techniques of transfer (e.g., training; exchanges; conferences; etc.), (5) examples of transfer considered “innovations” or “lessons”,  and (6) the transfer of technologies of policy management or implementation – the micro-tools for compliance. Through this broad analysis of practice we hope to see a range of cases that may reveal state to market, market to state, as well as state to state transfers.  The organizers also encourage authors to consider how their work contributes to innovation in theory building, critiques the mobility of particular policy tools, and specifically how their insights can shape a fresh approach to understanding policy transfer dynamics.

Subject to the quality of the papers, the convenors propose to prepare submission of a special issue of leading journal or publish an edited collection.

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