Welcome to our virtual issue featuring scholarship on Asia published in Policy & Politics in the last two years. We have a strong body of work surfacing a range of policy issues in the region with wider relevance as well and look forward to receiving similar submissions in the future!
In my recent research article in Policy & Politics, I investigate how policy transfer mechanisms influence policy outcomes in the context of authoritarianism in Vietnam. My findings show that civil service reforms in Vietnam’s merit-based policies are influenced by both Western and Asian models of meritocracy. This makes it both closer to universal “best practices” and at the same time sharpens the distinctiveness of Vietnam’s policy. While reform imperatives urge Vietnam to seek lessons from the West, the context of an Asian authoritarian regime explains their prioritising of experience from similar settings like China and other Asian countries. The pragmatic calculations of political actors in combination with the context of a one-party authoritarian state have led to transfer from contrasting meritocratic philosophies and models through mechanisms of translation and assemblage, resulting in a hybrid of convergence and divergence. Continue reading →
Globalisation has helped to intensify the international flow of people, information and policies. As a consequence, there has been increasing global concern regarding problems in areas such as immigration, health, poverty, among others. Continue reading →
I’m Doug Cooley, and have just finished a one-year Masters in Public Policy at the University of Bristol, home to the Policy & Politics journal. I hope to use this MPP as a basis to conduct future academic or practical policy work. During the year, I have focussed my research on various theoretical concepts, including policy transfer, and power structures in the policy process, applying these concepts to neoliberal mechanisms in the Global Financial System, and to the UK’s local governance structures. I am delighted to have won the Policy & Politics prize for achieving the highest overall mark on the unit ‘Power, Politics and the Policy Process’ as part of the MPP programme.
In this post, I highlight a piece of my work which explores the link between policy transfer, which I define as replication of policy instruments between polities, and institutional isomorphism, or the convergence of organisational structures and governance mechanisms. The relative lack of literature on the link is surprising, given how intuitively similar these ideas are, and the different normative connotations of the two concepts. Policy transfer emphasises the benefits of learning between polities, whereas institutional isomorphism is seen as a constraining influence on innovation. Continue reading →
I conducted a meta-review of policy diffusion studies that focus on the American states. By casting a wide net using Google Scholar and Web of Science, I identified all (to my knowledge) studies published between 1990 and 2018 that referred to “policy diffusion” and “berry and berry.” Berry and Berry are important because their 1990 study of state lotteries introduced the unified model of policy diffusion. Essentially, this model combined the internal characteristics of states with influences external to the states to explain policy adoption. Over time, scholars also recognized that the attributes of the policy innovations themselves condition how far and how quickly they spread. Continue reading →
This quarter’s highlights collection focusses on the popular theme of policy diffusion, bringing new analyses offering fresh perspectives on this extensive area of scholarship.
In our first featured article on policy diffusion, Daniel Mallinson continues his efforts in offering the most comprehensive analysis to date on how policy innovation diffuses across American states. Although hundreds of articles have tackled the fundamental question of why innovative policies spread, none has fully grappled with the scope of their disparate results.
To fill that gap, this article presents a state-of-the-art systematic review and meta-analysis of how policy innovation flows from US state to US state and the average effects of commonly used variables in the study of policy diffusion. In doing so, it highlights important biases in the research and makes recommendations for addressing those biases and increasing international collaboration on policy innovation research and results. Continue reading →
The scope and intensity of policy transfer—defined as the process in which policies and institutions from one time and/or place are used in another time and/or place—has increased in the last two decades. An area where extensive policy transfer occurs is public sector reform. In particular, developing countries frequently draw heavily on New Public Management (NPM) practices originally designed for Western democracies. Perceived as best practices, NPM-related reforms influenced the good governance agenda for most developing countries in the late 1990s and early 2000s. They were based on market-like characteristics such as performance management systems and citizens’ charters. Developing countries have found these reforms irresistible, as they face a huge need to grow their economies and shrink their governments. Amidst the expansion of the practice of policy transfer, early studies assumed that a key to successful transfer was the transfer of policy models in their entirety. However, recent research – including our own article in Policy & Politics – suggests that local adaption is essential for success. Continue reading →
The role of evidence in policy making, and whether evidence-based policy can ever be a reality, has attracted much debate, both inside and outside academia. In our article on what we refer to as ‘evidence translation’, we try to grapple with these issues. Our academic interest in this area stemmed from research we had conducted separately on similar themes (the role of evidence in policy making), but from different traditions and persuasions. Ingold had focused on ideas relating to ‘policy transfer’ in welfare to work, comparing Denmark with the UK. By contrast, Monaghan had concentrated efforts on understanding the standing of evidence in policy debates often seen, by critics, to be evidence free – in this case the area of UK drug policy. Our substantive areas were not a hindrance to our partnership. Instead, we were very much enthralled by some commentaries in the journal Policy & Politics (and elsewhere) that suggested that both evidence-based policy and policy transfer were fundamentally concerned with the same process, but were literatures that had emerged separately. It was, we felt, a hypothesis worth exploring, but more than that we quickly arrived at the conclusion that there was much to be learned by each literature from the other. Continue reading →
Given the UK Coalition government’s apparent ‘misuse’ of statistics in a range of policy areas, questions are often raised about the use of evidence in policymaking. Our key concern in this article is how evidence, ideas and knowledge are used (or not) in the policy process, drawing on a series of focus groups with 75 analysts and policy advisers in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The DWP seemed a good place to explore this issue – under New Labour it saw a huge increase in the number of evaluations and is currently the home of ‘flagship’ government policies such as Universal Credit and the Work Programme. Continue reading →