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Policy Transfer: What We Know About What Transfers, How It Happens, and How to Do It, Working Paper 038 Open Access

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Policy transfer is the spread of a policy – or some aspect of a policy – across units of government that occurs as a result of the adopting unit having at least some knowledge of the existence of the policy in other units. It is a subset of the broader term “policy diffusion,” which is the spread of policy across units regardless of whether that spread results from knowledge or from other factors such as convergence – a unit adopting a policy similar to other units because it is responding to similar conditions/problems, even if it is unaware of the existence of the policy elsewhere. Policy transfer thus requires “policy learning.” In this paper I will focus on what we know from the research literature about how policies transfer, what kinds of policies transfer, how policy learning that results in policy transfer takes place and what is known prescriptively about how governments should engage in the process of policy transfer (lesson-drawing).

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