T01P01 - Policy Transfer: Innovations in Theory and Practice

Topic : Policy Process Theories

Chair : Leslie Pal - lesliepal@gmail.com

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

General Objectives, Research Questions and Scientific Relevance

Call for papers

Session 1 Actors in Transfer

Wednesday, June 28th 14:00 to 16:00 (Manasseh Meyer MM 3 - 1)


Leslie Pal - lesliepal@gmail.com - Carleton University - Canada


The unusual suspects. The role of non-state actors in the transfer of health technology assessment in Romania

Alexandru Rusu - a.rusu@uu.nl - Utrecht University, WHO Collaborating Centre for Pharmaceutical Policy and Regulation - Romania

Alin Preda - alinpredatm@yahoo.com - University of Medicine and Pharmacy „Carol Davila” - Romania

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We generally understand policy transfer as driven by governments and the main international organizations, when in fact there is a big role for non-state actors such as consultants, industry associations and policy entrepreneurs.

Health technology assessment (HTA), the multidisciplinary evaluation of “value for money” of health care treatments, has attracted considerable attention within health policy debate in the last thirty years. Although it still has fluid boundaries, HTA is promoted by public and private consultancies as well as organizations such as the World Health Organization, the World Bank and the European Union. The need to develop HTA in Romania was identified as early as 1992; however an HTA unit was introduced inside the Ministry of Health only in 2012. Moreover, the implementation is seen by some observers as a “tick the box”, copycat exercise that has little in common with established HTA frameworks in other European Member States, and this controversy makes it a good case to study policy transfer.


Research questions:

Firstly, our hypothesis going in is that non-state actors such as consultants, industry associations and policy entrepreneurs have played a major role in the introduction and shaping of HTA in Romania. We look to establish the interests and policy preferences of these unconventional actors as well as their techniques of policy transfer. Based on our findings we identify trends, lessons learned and future research questions. Secondly, recent research has put forward the domestic epistemic community as a mechanism explaining the diffusion of HTA in Central Eastern Europe and we also plan to test this hypothesis in the Romanian case.



Most of this paper’s empirical observations are based on data from a set of in-depth, semi-structured expert/elite interviews. Academic literature as well as publicly available documents (such as legal drafts, policy papers, reports, PowerPoint presentations, official websites and press releases) serves as primary sources to complement interview data and allow for triangulation.


How the paper fits with the panel topic:

Panel T01P01 Policy Transfer: Innovations in Theory and Practice looks to fill in a gap in the literature on policy transfer by encouraging scholars to widen their lens and look beyond the usual suspects such as politicians, bureaucrats and the main supra/international organizations. Our research aims to go beyond the conventional dynamics of state-to-state transfer as we analyze the role of consultants, industry associations and policy entrepreneurs in the transfer of health technology assessment in Romania. The paper aims to be informative for scholars of both public policy and health/pharmaceutical policy.


Governance and “slum” upgrading in cities in the global South: best practice knowledge transfer, knowledge generation and community organisation, and Google

Richard Tomlinson - rht@unimelb.edu.au - University of Melbourne - Australia

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In 1996 James D. Wolfensohn recast the World Bank as a ‘knowledge bank’ that would provide city managers and other urban professionals ‘with the right kinds of knowledge’.  In 1999 he wrote that the Bank should support ‘[p]roactive knowledge management’, with the apprehension that poor access to the Web will lead to ‘knowledge gaps’.  (The Web is central since knowledge gaps can be filled by googling a policy issue.)  Employing hyperlinks, the World Bank provides ‘over 3,000 cities’ with explanations of the causes of urban governance issues, the policies that will best address the issues and how programs and projects can be financed and delivered. 


In contrast, community organisations and NGOs seek to inject their specific concerns.  For example, NGOs and CBOs like the Indian Alliance and Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI), which is active in 33 countries, employ a process of knowledge generation and ‘precedents’ as a means of community organisation, and community organisation as a means of enhancing the capacity and confidence of an organized urban poor to engage in development processes.  Peer-to-peer networking of the precedents is the foremost route to knowledge exchange.


In such circumstances, the question concerns the ability of community organisations to persuasively present precedents as what works’ and the ability of the city manager and others to adopt or adapt the precedent and to support the roles of community organisations and NGOs policy formulation and, more commonly, project implementation. 


In the case of assertions of best practice, the use of the expression increased exponentially in the early 1990s; along with ‘neoliberalism’, ‘governance’ ‘knowledge transfer’ and ‘googling’.  The backdrop to this change was the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.  The absence of an alternative to neoliberalism ‘removed the breaks’ on the policies of the Thatcher and Reagan era and, in the 1990s, enabled the assertion of a now somewhat fractured neoliberal hegemony.  Governance best or good practices and public sector reform have been the currency of urban policy recommendations since the 1990s.


In the case of the Indian Alliance and SDI, the first tenet is that ‘change needs evidence’.  Through peer-to-peer knowledge exchanges, which come to include governments and development agencies and others, a precedent is used to render credible policy, program or project alternatives.  In addition, the SDI’s ‘Know Your City’ campaign includes a community organisation undertaking a census of, and mapping, slum communities.  The process of data acquisition serves the purposes of community organisation and empowers communities with data relevant to prospective projects and their implementation.  It should also be noted that these NGOs also use the Web with considerable sophistication for knowledge transfer.


This paper documents and assesses the two knowledge sets and also the central role of Google in knowledge transfer.  It then considers the circumstances in which best practices and community precedents are adopted or adapted.  Case studies are drawn from India and South Africa.


Academic Administrative Entrepreneurs (AAEs) and Policy Transfer: The Indonesian Experience and Its Theoretical Discussion

Ario Wicaksono - ario.wicaksono@canberra.edu.au - Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis (IGPA), University of Canberra - Australia

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The aim of this paper is to present theoretical discussion from ongoing research on the role of academics-turned-top public officials as the transfer agent in Indonesia. Indonesia has a unique experience to other countries regarding the story of the transfer agent. Since the authoritarian New Order Regime to Reformation Era (1966-present), Indonesia has a practice of recruiting academics into top policy-making and bureaucratic positions to transfer policies and innovations, where in some way has become the norm. This pattern emerged to bridge the gap of expertise, find quick answers, and to some extent, their presence can make the regime's policy look sound and scientifically legitimate. Academic administrative entrepreneurs (AAEs) will be introduced and used as the term to represent this practice. Using library research and document analysis, this paper tries to present particular discussion both on the role of academic as transfer agent within policy transfer approach in general and providing insight into the distinctive practice of recruiting academic in public office in Indonesia. Eventually, it will contribute to the identification of unconventional actors which need to be further studied and served as one of the aims of Policy Transfer: Innovations in Theory and Practice Panel (Panel T01P01).

NEW PHILANTHROPIC AID AND SOCIAL POLICY TRANSFER. A Case study on the Gates Foundation in Tanzania

Roosa Jolkkonen - roosa.jolkkonen@jesus.ox.ac.uk - University of Oxford - United Kingdom

Traditional aid donors – commonly understood as the World Bank (WB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), OECD-DAC, and some International NGOs, such as Oxfam – have largely dominated the agenda-setting for the Sub-Saharan African region since its independence (Chin and Quadir, 2012, p. 496). Such policy influence has been furthered by conditionalities connected to development assistance. This coercive mechanism of policy transfer (Drezner, 2004, 2001; Holden, 2009; Stone, 2010) has been a prominent instrument in changing policy directions particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, considered as the continent of ‘weak states’ and ‘bad governance’ without a credible domestic policy vision (Adesina, 2014; Khan and Gray, 2006).


Development aid continues to be a powerful vehicle of policy influence, but the donor landscape is changing. Beside the emerging Southern actors, a new brand of Western donors originating predominantly from Silicon Valley’s world leading tech-businesses such as Google, Facebook or Microsoft, are a key component of this change. This, what I call new philanthropic aid, represents a powerful group of donors with fresh ideas for development which they endeavour to spread globally. While private actors have been largely omitted in policy transfer study (Bender et al., 2014, p. 29), Stone has furthered that private philanthropies engage particularly in soft policy transfer, diffusing ideas, norms and knowledge through transfer networks (eg. epistemic communities, international organisations) providing leverage required by non-political actors (Stone, 2010, 2004). However, the empirical evidence on the mechanisms at play is currently quasi-absent, and it remains unknown what exactly is being transferred. Thus, further research focus on philanthropic donors is required to increase our understanding of contemporary transnational social policy transfer in the context of aid.


This paper investigates the processes of social policy transfer initiated by new philanthropic donors within the health sector in Sub-Saharan Africa. More specifically, it examines the case of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s most powerful philanthropic foundation, in Tanzania – the continent’s third biggest aid recipient with a strong policy vision shaped by its past of African Socialism. The paper presents preliminary findings of the research, focusing upon the (i) objects of transfer (eg. overall development objectives, specific health policies) and (ii) transfer mechanisms (eg. coercive/voluntary, hard/soft) and instruments (eg. aid modalities, supra-national networks). The data in question consists of a documentary analysis and elite interviews with representatives of the Gates Foundation and the government of Tanzania.


Change in Policy Transfer Institutions and Agents: International Institutions to International Consulting Firms

Lhawang Ugyel - lhawang.ugyel@anu.edu.au - Australian National University - Australia

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As forms of policy transfers are increasing in developing countries, so are the institutions and agents engaging in them. Traditional donor institutions, such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, are now being replaced by international consulting corporations, such as McKinsey. International institutions, particularly during the 1980s and 1990s, were accused of playing a coercive role as policy transfer agents. Are the international consulting firms taking on a different role? Through the engagement of McKinsey Consulting Co. in Bhutan, this paper examines what is different in the new transfer agents, or are they in fact similar. McKinsey was recruited by the Royal Government of Bhutan from 2009 – 2012 to work on the Accelerated Economic Development Program. One striking difference in terms of engagement is that the Bhutanese Government paid McKinsey a sum of USD 9.1 million for its services as opposed to how international donors were engaged through aid conditionalities. Based on the process of how McKinsey was recruited and the modus operandi of its operation in Bhutan, this paper examines some of the similarities and differences in the roles and impacts of these new policy transfer institutions and agents.    

Session 2 Geo-political Transfer Theatres

Wednesday, June 28th 16:15 to 18:15 (Manasseh Meyer MM 3 - 1)


Baker Tom - t.baker@auckland.ac.nz - University of Auckland - New Zealand


Building Knowledge on Policy Transfer through cases of South-South Cooperation

Michelle Morais de Sa e Silva - michelle.morais@enap.gov.br - ENAP - Brazil's National School of Public Administration - Brazil

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The practice of South-South Cooperation for the purpose of policy transfer has achieved great political interest and priority in recent years. However, some public policies have had greater success than others in getting transferred across countries of the geopolitical South. In this framework, this research asks about whether policy content matters for the policy diffusion process that may result from South-South cooperation initiatives. Specifically, it looks into why some participatory and rights-based policies in Brazil have not diffused internationally despite governmental efforts. Five cases were compared where Brazil cooperated with Haiti, Cuba, El Salvador and Guinea Bissau.

One could say this research is at the crossroads between South-South cooperation and policy transfer. Recent studies on South-South cooperation, which fortunately have started to flourish in academia in past years, have been especially focused on doing foreign policy analysis of those practices, looking at their meaning and impact on power relations in the international system. However, not much research has been dedicated to analyzing, in detail, the practice of South-South cooperation as a practice of policy transfer.  

            In asking about whether policy content matters for policy transfer, one possible hypothesis on that regard is that simple policies – in terms of implementation – may diffuse more easily than complex policies. The research also looks at whether the facilitation and intermediation by international partners are necessary and sufficient for global policy transfer processes.

            In order to accomplish that, the study contrasts and compares five case studies, all of them related to South-South cooperation initiatives in the field of human rights involving Brazil and another developing country. Among those cases, one seems particularly interesting: the case of non-transfer in the failed attempt of cooperation between Brazil and Guinea Bissau in human rights education.

Therefore, the main interest here is on the cooperation initiatives that have sought to transfer public policies, some of which are considered “best practices”, between countries of the South. After presenting the main theoretical concepts and discussions that have informed the research, the paper brings information on the five selected case studies and compares them.

Interestingly, research findings do not confirm the initial hypothesis but rather point to an interesting new direction: policies that act towards strengthening the power position of those groups adopting them tend to be more successfully transferred than those that—like participatory policies—result in some form of power-sharing. Additionally, international partners have been found to be important but not sufficient for a complete policy transfer.


The Transfer and Utilization of Low Impact Development Techniques in the US and UK

David Dolowitz - dolowitz@liv.ac.uk - University of Liverpool - United Kingdom

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While there has been much interest in how and why political systems look to, or are ‘forced’ to, look to other political systems and international institutions for ideas and policies, little of this has examined just what it is that is ultimately used as a result of these searches.  Even less information is available on what happens to information once it enters a policymaking situation and subsequently works its way through the policymaking process.  This paper aims to start addressing some of the issues that is raised by the use and movement of knowledge and information in the policy process by examining some of the ways information about foreign ideas and policies is bought into a political system and is subsequently combined with (or gets utilized in an unadulterated manner) other ideas as it encounters other ideas, actors, and institutions involved in the policymaking and implementation processes.  The paper will also examine some of the issues that emerge in the transfer process that interfere with the transmission, reception and utilization of information when actors and institutions engage in the development of policies. To help illustrate these ideas the paper will draw on interview data with stormwater managers in the United States and Britain relating to the development a range of Sustainable Urban Drainage System (SUDS) and Low Impact Development Policies (LID).


The Double Policy Transfer. Austerity Measures from Global Inputs to Local Outcomes across Mediterranean Countries.

Andrea Lippi - lippi@unifi.it - Department of Political and Social Sciences, University of Florence - Italy

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Austerity programs have mainly been promoted by international bodies in a very detailed way suggesting aims, strategies and policy instruments but then implemented by national and subnational governments. As known, the most part of austerity measures has been invented and packaged by international agencies and regulators like the IMF and the OECD and refined by the ECB and the European Institutions. It deals with a list of measures submitted from prestigious and influential supranational stakeholders (consultants, opinion makers, representatives, chief executives, advisors) to the central governments in some cases through a coercive application and in other cases by suggesting a mimetic isomorphism. As a matter of fact, the most part of the central governments re-transferred the austerity measures to the Subnational Governments delegating the implementation again by a coercive or mimetic application. In other words, austerity measures have been transferred twice: from a political environment external to the state to an internal one and then from the central governments to the local ones.

This fact raises some questions about the players and the effects: who transferred and what has really transferred through the double trajectory from global to national and from centre to periphery? According to recent publications about global discourse and local impacts, Austerity transfer is interpreted as ‘a global discourse that became a local practice’ (Christensen, 2012). Actually, in the transfer process many changes occurred and influence by the central government as well as by the local ones are crucial. Local assemblage, translation and reshaping shed light on the significant critical drivers and stakeholders that contributed to transform an external importation to an internal construction.

The paper aims at describing the double transfer of austerity programs in six Mediterranean Countries (Portugal, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Greece and Cyprus) by comparing the trajectories of adopting and transmitting goals, strategies and instruments from the global discourse to the local implementation. It investigates how austerity policies impacted local public services (health, social services, water and sanitation, waste and local transportation) with special regard to the interplay between external and internal, on the one side, and central and local policy makers, on the other, who favoured or resisted, biased or re-interpreted the austerity policy by fiscal and financial measures, reorganizational process and ideas.

ps: the paper is shared with Theodore N. Tsekos, Associate Professor of Public Administration, Department of Business and Public Administration, The Peloponnese Institute of Technological Education, Kalamata, Greece, who will not attend on the conference




Policy transfer through actor's policy-change strategies: the making of management for results policies in Chile and Mexico

Mauricio Dussauge - mauricio.dussauge@cide.edu - CIDE - Mexico

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How do policy-makers ensure that policies from abroad actually stick and trigger policy changes in their jurisdictions? The literature on policy transfer/difussion/mobilities has long stated that national policymaking is influenced by international models and lessons. However, scholars generally stop their analyses once they find some evidence that a given policy has been transferred/diffused across jurisdictions. This evidence usually comes in the form of a legislative act or public programme that somehow resembles an existing policy in a different jurisdiction. Yet the process of actual transfer/diffusion is a long and winding one, and policymakers need to make sure that this leads to real policy changes in their institutional setting. In order to do so, this paper argues that policymakers devise a number of strategies. First, they use "policy building", such as "conceptualisation" and "professionalisation". Second, they devise "policy institutionalisations" strategies, such as "international legitimation" and "political deactivation". As a whole, these strategies allow policymakers to use knowledge from abroad, while at the same time they provide them with political room for manouver to foster policy changes that stick in the longer term. The paper uses qualitative evidence from the making of Management for Results policies in Chile and Mexico from 1990s-2010s. 

From local to Global: Brazil exporting social policies

Osmany Porto de Oliveira - osmanyporto@gmail.com - Department of International Relations - Federal University of São Paulo - Brazil

The story of Brazil is characterized by the presence of foreign political ideas and models. European countries as well as the United States were the main protagonists of this process. The legacy as a Portuguese colony, Roman law and constitutional principles occurring in France and models of public administration from the United States are examples of how this influence came about at different moments and intensities, contributing to shape the State structure along the past century. Although, between 1980 and 2010 the scenario changed and Brazil took a path rising as an emerging power, producing important social policies innovations both in local and national levels, which have been recommended by international organizations such as the World Bank and the United Nations.


The widespread models such as Participatory Budgeting in Porto Alegre, nowadays present in Paris and New York, and the transport system developed in Curitiba have revealed along the nineties the global impact of municipal policies. A few years later, from 2002 on national social policies such as the Family Allowance Program and the School Feeding Program became showcases of the new form of policymaking in Brazil, being transferred to different countries in Latin America and African region. How Brazil moved from importing foreign institutions to a model for social policies to Southern countries? Which individual and collective actors were engaged on this process? Where were these actors operating transfers and by which means? What mechanisms have contributed to foster transfers?


Literature on policy transfer have been developed by researches that analyzed empirical objects that flew from the North to the South. New researches taking into account South-South policy transfer have adopted concepts and techniques from this debate. The aim of this article is to present the first results of a research on Brazilian policy diffusion, aspiring to contribute on conceptual innovation, as well as theory-building from the perspective of the new directions and dynamics analyzed on policy transfer. The study produces a genealogy of Brazilian policy transfer, from the import period along the XX century, to the export movement started in the 1990’s, showing how it became a national foreign policy strategy. The paths of the diffusion of local policies and national policies are compared and the main similarities and differences are presented. The study also gives particular attention to the role of transfer operators called “policy ambassadors”. On the one hand, it is analyzed the circulation of these actors within different state structures (municipality, ministry, academia, NGO’s) and international organizations. On the other hand spaces of transnational interaction, such as summits, conferences, and training workshops are analyzed. These spaces have their own modus operandi and were used by actors as a locus for networking, legitimating experiences, signing protocols, initiating cooperation agreements and fund-raising for projects. Particular attention is dedicated to the attributes of the actors and the dynamics of these spaces in South-South policy transfers. The research is based on qualitative methodology and uses document analysis, participant observation and elite-interview strategies.

Session 3 New Approaches in Theory and Practice - I

Thursday, June 29th 08:15 to 10:15 (Manasseh Meyer MM 3 - 1)


Christopher Walker - c.walker@unsw.edu.au - University of New South Wales, Australia - Australia


Policy tourism and the aura of authenticity

Baker Tom - t.baker@auckland.ac.nz - University of Auckland - New Zealand

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A globalising consciousness permeates the imaginations of contemporary policy actors. Through virtual seminars, websites and downloadable reports, technologically-mediated lessons, often from geographically, culturally and politically distant locations, are routinely folded into the working knowledge of local and national policy actors. But if information and expert testimony is more plentiful and accessible than ever before, why is policy-making rarely a desktop-only activity? Grounded in an emerging body of research on policy tourism—wherein policy actors visit and learn from foreign sites and places—this paper discusses the role and nature of embodied first-hand experiences in policy learning and policy mobility. In addition to being practical excursions in ‘fact-finding’, the paper argues that embodied experiences can produce an inspirational ‘aura of authenticity’. Despite ample opportunities to learn and converse at-a-distance, such auras generate belief in, and commitment to, policy ideas and experts in ways that are difficult, perhaps even impossible, to replicate without ‘being there’.


The Environmental Policy Transfer in the GCC: Setting the Agenda for Climate Change and Energy Security

Tok M. Evren - evrentok@gmail.com - HBKU - Qatar

S.Duygu Sever-Mehmetoğlu - ssever@ku.edu.tr - Koç University - Turkey

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The Gulf Cooperation Countries are among the key players in the global energy field with their resources making up 29,3% and 22,3% of the world’s total oil and gas reserves, respectively[1]. The fact that their economies are dependent on their fossil fuels production and exports raise important questions first with regards to their potential vulnerabilities given the global efforts to diversify away from the oil and gas towards low-carbon resources and second concerning their own emissions. Although Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman cause together 2,9% of the world’s total CO2 emissions from fuel combustion, the GCC’s CO2 emissions per capita is strikingly high compared to the world average of 4,47 tones/capita[2] . In this context, the climate change leave these countries in a deadlock. While the negative impacts of climate change risk hindering the region’s water, food and human security trough potential waves of migration, the remedy to this significant challenge demanding a fundamental change in the fossil fuel consumption further threatens their economies unless the revenues are diversified away from oil and gas exports. With this challenge, it is crucial to understand the position of the GCC countries in the global efforts to govern the fight with the climate change through concrete emission reduction targets and policies.


In this framework, a relatively understudied aspect of the intensive diversification efforts of the Gulf states is the nature and scope of policy learning and transfer. By using existing statistics and analyzing patterns of policy parameters in the areas of energy security and climate change, together with key elite interviews conducted with policy makers, the study will qualitatively study environmental policy learning in the GCC. The paper, after describing the performance of the GCC in terms of energy security and climate change, will firstly investigate whether these countries have a coordinated policy as a group in the global environmental governance mechanisms. Secondly, the analysis will reveal whether there is a national policy convergence among the GCC countries in terms of climate change. The research will be an effort to contribute to the literature with its examination of the policy transfer in climate change and energy security within the GCC, which is a case of a non-traditional South-South diffusion pattern in the Middle East region, across the Muslim states of the Arabian Gulf. The findings will be critical in diagnosing and prescribing the direction of the policy efforts as well as the practices of energy security and environmental performance that are in place to meet the climate targets, which in turn will affect the overall success of global efforts officially declared in the Paris Agreement.

[1] BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2016.
[2] IEA CO2 Emissions from Fuel Combustion, OECD/IEA, Paris, 2016. The CO2 emissions per capita for the GCC is as the following: Bahrain 21,8; Kuwait 22,94; Oman 14,14; Qatar 35,73; Saudi Arabia 16,40; United Arab Emirates 19,31 for 2014.


Policy transfer in 140 characters: Mapping the Arctic policy network of the Twitterverse

Jennifer Spence - spence.jennifer.c@gmail.com - Carleton University - Canada

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The role of global public policy networks in the transfer of policy  has received growing scholarly attention (Haas, 1992; Stone, 2013).  Over the last two decades, we have seen sophisticated efforts to empirically map these policy networks and breakdown conventional understandings of the actors involved in policy transfer (Taylor 2005; McGann & Sabatini 2011; McNutt & Pal 2011; Oatley et al, 2013).  However, the literature about global public policy networks has not yet turned its attention to new and emerging platforms or techniques that further enable these networks to transfer policy ideas.  Twitter is a social media tool that is used by a diverse array of actors for a boundless variety of purposes. Most recently, Twitter has attracted attention as a fast and potentially powerful means for politicians, governments and other actors to communicate policy positions.  But is Twitter just a mouthpiece to broadcast policy statements or does it offer a new means for policy transfer? This paper will use the Arctic policy network using Twitter as a case study to better understand if Twitter is being used as a means for policy transfer.  UCINET and Netdraw, two Social Network Analysis (SNA) applications, will be used to visualize the features of the Arctic policy network using Twitter (Borgatti et al, 2002).  The paper will focus specifically on analyzing the actors using Twitter to transfer policy, the specific policy issues being discussed and how Twitter is used to transfer policy ideas.  This study will draw on data collected from Twitter over a one-year period (March 2016 to March 2017).


Cities learning from cities: How local governments adopt public innovations from their peers in the context of decentralization

Mulya Amri - mulya.amri@u.nus.edu - Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore - Singapore

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Most of what is known as innovation – be it in the private or public sector domains – are not original; they are learned. And in a setting where public innovativeness is rewarded administratively and politically, local government leaders are racing to seek and adopt new policy ideas. How do these leaders learn about new and relevant policies from other local governments? How do they adopt and transfer these policies into their cities’ unique contexts?


This paper is based on a recently completed Ph.D thesis that examines the transaction costs of conducting public innovation for city governments in Indonesia and the Philippines. A few years after adopting democracy and decentralization, the central government in both countries started rewarding local governments for innovative programs that work. This triggers media attention on the award-winning programs, which in turn provides the city’s leaders with political capital. The national attention also raises awareness and triggers demand from residents in other cities to adopt similar programs, which in turn pushed their mayors to seek policy references to learn and implement.


Through a comparative study of eight cities, I find domestic references as well as nearby international cases to be easier to learn and adopt from. Participation in inter-city networking and sharing forums also lend support to the policy learning process, but ultimately successful adoption depends on how city leaders interact and negotiate with local stakeholders.


Policy Transfer and Resistance: Proposals for a New Research Agenda

Leslie Pal - lesliepal@gmail.com - Carleton University - Canada

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The policy transfer literature has focused on the mechanisms of transfer, its networks and flows, agents and actors, epistemic communities and international organizations, but has generally neglected resistance to transfer. After the events of 2016, it is time to take resistance to transfer more seriously, and to attempt to conceptualize it and bring it more directly and fruitfully into the transfer framework. This article is a brief attempt to sketch some of the factors that explain resistance to policy transfer. If the world from 1950 to roughly 2000 was a world of growing interdependence, borrowing, “catching up,” promoting “best practice” models and sometimes imposing them as conditions for political and economic development, the world since 2000, and especially since the financial crisis of 2008, seems to be world of open resistance and rejection, if not contempt, for the “models” that have so confidently been peddled in the global policy transfer process. Transfer, borrowing, and diffusion of course continue, since governments need to solve problems and they will look to international lessons and examples, but the global flows are more complicated and less fluid. They confront growing counter-dynamics of blockage, resistance, and even deep reversal. 

Session 4 New Approaches in Theory and Practice - II

Thursday, June 29th 10:30 to 12:30 (Manasseh Meyer MM 3 - 1)


Mulya Amri - mulya.amri@u.nus.edu - Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore - Singapore


Bureaucratic Entrepreneurship and Transferable Laboratory of Governance Paradigm

Xufeng Zhu - zhuxufeng@tsinghua.edu.cn - Tsinghua University - China

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This article explores a rarely discussed policy transfer mechanism that links career mobility of bureaucratic entrepreneurs and transfer of governance paradigm. We argue that Chinese local cadres who are vertically or horizontally mobilized from one locality to another tend to have greater entrepreneurship to introduce the experimentation from their original working localities to their current positions. The case of QIU He shows how a typical bureaucratic entrepreneur in China introduced his governance paradigm of New Public Management in his different jurisdictions, exhibiting the policy effects of his geographical cadre mobility. As a result, China is inspired to test the effectiveness and adaptiveness of various governance paradigms as laboratories for local governments.



Case Study Research on Public Programs and Organizations: Lessons v. Design Precedents as Rival Ideals

Michael Barzelay - M.Barzelay@lse.ac.uk - London School of Economics and Political Science - United Kingdom

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This paper develops compares two "ideals" about what case study research is for, and how it should be done, when the intention is for such writings to have practical relevance for "managing" public programs and public organizations.


The "incumbent ideal" is taken to be lesson-drawing, the case for which has recently been restated by González and Woolcock in "Operationalizing the Science of Delivery Agenda to Enhance Development Results.


The "challenger ideal" for case study research is to furnish design precedents. The idea of "precedent" is one of the cornerstones of practice in such "arts of design" as architecture.  Design precedents result from systematic learning about historically-existing "artifacts" or other kinds of purposeful systems.


The paper develops the conceptual foundations of case-studies-as-design-precedents, partly on the basis of writings in public policy and management, including some by Eugene Bardach.  It identifies points of difference in relation to the incumbent ideal as set out by González and Woolcock.  In doing so, the paper will establish the intellectual precursors of the rival ideas.  Finally, the paper will explore deep-seated reasons why it will be difficult for the design precedent ideal to displace the lesson-drawing ideal, as well as suggesting specific ways to raise the offset these in-built disadvantages.  These avenues will be illustrated with reference to literature that furnishes design precedents, without using the vocabulary, where the authors include Bardach, Judith Tendler, Elinor Ostrom, Todd LaPorte, Diane Vaughan, and Michael Barzelay and Colin Campbell.   


In addition, the paper will pursue a by-product of this meta-theoretical discussion, which is to clarify long-standing debates about public management, including that framed by Laurence Lynn as "art, science, or profession" some 20 years ago.


The proposal picks up on an aspect of the panel's call for papers, which 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'...Scholarly work needs to be...more critical of the transferability of specific policy tools, and to reflect this better in a more developed theoretical framework."


A comparative analysis of policy transfer cases in the road transport sector. The role of markets, technology and insights for policy practice.

Christopher Walker - c.walker@unsw.edu.au - University of New South Wales, Australia - Australia

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This presentation aims to provide a comparative analysis of two studies that examine the transfer of innovative policy and regulatory models developed in the Australian road transport sector that have subsequently been trialed and adopted in other countries.


The first case study involves a policy model of self-regulation that has been modified and adopted in South Africa and the second involves the use of satellite tracking technology as a monitoring and compliance tool to ensure trucks remain on route and travel at approved times and this has been trialed and adapted for implementation in Sweden. Data for each case is drawn from qualitative interviews, site visits, workshop participation, engagement with government agencies, key business organisations and other relevant stakeholders.


In the first case study we see a policy model transferred to a developing economy (South Africa) with significantly different institutional and governance capabilities.  This results in modifications to implementation arrangements that effectively characterise the transfer process as one of state to market rather than the traditional notions of state-to-state transmission.  During the transfer and implementation process the Australian policy model is significantly adapted to allow a greater role to be played by market participants in policy governance and delivery*. In the second case study we observe policy transfer between like economies with similar bureaucratic and institutional structures. In this case technology plays an important role in enhancing capacity for collaboration and strengthening the likelihood of transfer. However, while the case is characteristic of state-to-state transmission we also see a different set of market forces come into play influencing policy analysis and the eventual modification of the policy that is approved for implementation.


The comparative analysis of the two cases aims to explore the value and insights that emerge from the study of policy transfer cases. In doing this the dynamic behavior of market influences in policy transfer, policy development and implementation are critiqued. As well as exploring what shapes policy transfer in different contexts discussion asks how does such analytical work contribute to the improvement of policy and regulatory practice? How might the development of theory and the specific findings from this field of research be useful for policy and regulatory agencies as they search for solutions to the contemporary challenges they face? 


* The findings from this first case study were initially reported at the 2015 ICPP in Milan.




Do Policy Narratives Shape Policy Transfer Mechanisms?

Titilayo Soremi - titi.obisesan@gmail.com - University of Exeter - United Kingdom

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Policy transfer mechanisms can be said to be factors that facilitate the occurrence of policy transfer. They also underpin the categorization of policy transfer as voluntary or coercive, so that transfer instances driven by learning or persuasion are classified as voluntary transfer, while policy transfers driven by conditionality, obligation, or imposition, are grouped as coercive transfer. The identification of transfer mechanisms in policy transfer research is hinged on addressing one of the key policy transfer research questions i.e. ‘why transfer?’, and doing so has mostly been informed by making reference to documentations and dialogues generated among policy transfer actors relating to the proposition and/or process of policy transfer. This paper proposes the analysis of policy narratives used by policy transfer actors in documentations and dialogues, in a bid to better understand what may have informed the manifestation of the transfer mechanism that led to the occurrence of policy transfer. The Narrative Policy Framework (NPF) can be employed to analyse policy narratives based on the possibility of identifying narrative elements, including character, plot, setting, and moral, which highlight the depictions and perceptions of a story’s narrator. With the identification of narrative elements, one may infer the intentions and/or expectations of transfer agents and recipients that informed their engagement in the policy transfer process, and have shaped the transfer mechanism that is identified as the driver of a policy transfer process.


Based on the review of policy transfer literature and NPF literature, this paper assesses different accounts of policy transfers and attempts to identify the narrative elements that characterized the stories used by actors involved in the policy transfer instances, for communicating their intentions and understanding of the policy transfer process. The paper also proposes that there are specific narrative elements that will likely be associated with individual policy transfer mechanisms, and that identifying these elements in communication materials related to a policy transfer instances can help in deciphering how the mechanism that facilitated the transfer process evolved.

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