Policy Transfer using the 'Gold Standard':
Exploring Policy Tourism in Practice
John Hudson University of York, United Kin...
Policy Transfer: new wave?
• New heat in the policy transfer debate
• Ideas from outside policy science
• Critique of line...
Policy Transfer: new wave?
• Unfair to earlier studies?
• Dolowitz (2012):
– simple v complex learning

– mimicry v concep...
Policy Tourism?
• New wave: focus on (policy) mobilities
• Policy Tourism
– Rich in metaphors…
– Tour guides, tourist gaze...
‘If you want to learn how a programme
works, there is no substitute for seeing it action’
(Rose, 2005: 57)

‘No substitute...
Policy Tourism
• Ties with Evans and Davies model
• Evans argues there is a weak evidence base in the
Policy Transfer lite...
Policy Tourism
Evans:
• Identify agents of transfer
• Intentional actions, cross-national
• Avoid focus on clear cut succe...
Evans and Davies Model
The pre-decision process of policy-oriented learning
Problem
Recognition

Search for ideas
& contac...
Methods
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Explore policy tourism Korea – UK example
Key informants from four study tours to UK
Strict confi...
Pre-Decision Processes
1. Problem Recognition
• Stretched a long way back
• Study tours did not set agenda
• Only one smal...
Pre-Decision Processes
2. The Search for Ideas
• Recursive rather than linear
– slow diffusion of ideas, much prior learni...
Pre-Decision Processes
3. Emergence of Information Feeder Network
• Wide range of organisations included in network
• Valu...
Decision Processes
• Harder to identify the stages of model here
• Tours only weakly influenced policy decisions
• Indeed,...
Decision Processes
• Emergence of policy transfer networks
• At best ephemeral
• Policy tourists piece together story back...
Decision Processes
• But learning occurred
• Might change follow in long run?
“You should keep in your mind this. I wrote ...
Post-Decision Processes
• No clear decisions followed
• But learning from abroad noted by the officials
“In making a new p...
Conclusions
‘while policy change can be the result of learning,
learning can be present when outcomes appear to
remain sta...
Conclusions
•
•
•
•

But learning valued for own right
Timing of learning and decision making mismatched
Visceral aspect w...
‘I think there is a saying, that a picture is better
than a hundred words. Seeing and not seeing
are completely different ...
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Policy Transfer using the 'Gold Standard': Exploring Policy Tourism in Practice - presentation by John Hudson and Bo-Yung Kim

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Are Cultural Differences Between Nations a Barrier to Cross-National Policy Learning?
Policy Transfer using the 'Gold Standard': Exploring Policy Tourism in Practice

Presentation by John Hudson* and Bo-Yung Kim** to Second International Conference on Social Policy and Governance: Policy Learning and Policy Transfer, Hong Kong Institute of Education, Hong Kong, December 6-7 2013.

Policy transfer features prominently in the policy analysis literature, yet relatively little is known about how government officials seek to learn lessons from abroad in practice. This research, based on interviews with officials in government institutes in South Korea who were involved in a series of study visits to the United Kingdom, addresses this knowledge gap using Evans and Davies’ policy transfer network model and the recently developed notion of ‘policy tourism’. We conclude that policy tourism rarely leads directly to policy change but is a valuable part of on-going processes of policy learning.

* University of York, UK
** Yeungnam University, South Korea

Published in: Technology, Education
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Policy Transfer using the 'Gold Standard': Exploring Policy Tourism in Practice - presentation by John Hudson and Bo-Yung Kim

  1. 1. Policy Transfer using the 'Gold Standard': Exploring Policy Tourism in Practice John Hudson University of York, United Kingdom Bo-Yung Kim Yeoungnam University, Korea
  2. 2. Policy Transfer: new wave? • New heat in the policy transfer debate • Ideas from outside policy science • Critique of linear and rationalist underpinnings • Examine processes of learning • Focus on ‘mundane practices’ of officials
  3. 3. Policy Transfer: new wave? • Unfair to earlier studies? • Dolowitz (2012): – simple v complex learning – mimicry v concept formation • Policy transfer networks, epistemic communities • Tracing processes always been key anyway?
  4. 4. Policy Tourism? • New wave: focus on (policy) mobilities • Policy Tourism – Rich in metaphors… – Tour guides, tourist gaze • Return to roots of policy learning literature
  5. 5. ‘If you want to learn how a programme works, there is no substitute for seeing it action’ (Rose, 2005: 57) ‘No substitute for going there’ (Rose, 2005: 64-68) ‘field trips to other countries *… are+ the ‘gold standard’ for international policy learning’ (Ettelt et al, 2012: 496)
  6. 6. Policy Tourism • Ties with Evans and Davies model • Evans argues there is a weak evidence base in the Policy Transfer literature: ‘because rigorous validation would demand excellent access to key informants, which is often beyond the reach of policy scientists’ (Evans, 2009: 399)
  7. 7. Policy Tourism Evans: • Identify agents of transfer • Intentional actions, cross-national • Avoid focus on clear cut success stories • Explore voluntary learning • Focus on policy mobilities demands the same
  8. 8. Evans and Davies Model The pre-decision process of policy-oriented learning Problem Recognition Search for ideas & contact with potential agents of transfer Emergence of an information feeder network Decision Processes Cognition and the emergence of a policy transfer network Elite and cognitive mobilization and evaluation of options Decision enters formal policy stream Post-decision processes of policy-oriented learning Implementation Monitoring and evaluation Ongoing process of policy learning
  9. 9. Methods • • • • • • • • Explore policy tourism Korea – UK example Key informants from four study tours to UK Strict confidentiality/anonymity Interviews took place 2-3 years after visit Reflect on nature of learning that took place 5 interviews [cf. Dwyer & Ellison, 2009; Legrand, 2012] Back translation for Korean – English Analytic framework: Evans and Davies model
  10. 10. Pre-Decision Processes 1. Problem Recognition • Stretched a long way back • Study tours did not set agenda • Only one small part of policy process
  11. 11. Pre-Decision Processes 2. The Search for Ideas • Recursive rather than linear – slow diffusion of ideas, much prior learning • Study tours about small details? “Learning lessons from abroad is not just all about going on a trip. Indeed, we learn a lot more from texts, but we cannot understand how the policy actually operates, what is going on at the frontline and how policy environment and atmosphere are, unless we come and see. In most cases, we research through texts almost 80 percent and we go out to find out the remaining 20 percent” (P5).
  12. 12. Pre-Decision Processes 3. Emergence of Information Feeder Network • Wide range of organisations included in network • Value the visceral? ‘I sent questions [to the civil servants] in advance, they just presented what was probably a pre-made briefing for all visitors, rather than answering the questions. […] they just said what I already know’ (P1) “When we had a meeting with people delivering services, we heard honest stories. They told us how the [policy] actually worked and about problems that arose in practice. So we could feel and learn how they addressed the service user in practice.” (P4)
  13. 13. Decision Processes • Harder to identify the stages of model here • Tours only weakly influenced policy decisions • Indeed, tours sometimes about a break from politics of policy, chance to reflect “For four months, when I was making a general plan [for the policy], I could not sleep properly. Directors and others said I would fall ill soon by overwork […] everybody needed a [kind of] break” (P1)
  14. 14. Decision Processes • Emergence of policy transfer networks • At best ephemeral • Policy tourists piece together story back home Elite cognitive mobilization • Key decisions already made • ‘interrupted learning’ (no action follows)
  15. 15. Decision Processes • But learning occurred • Might change follow in long run? “You should keep in your mind this. I wrote my report in 2007. Of course this policy suggestion might be accepted in the same year or next, but we usually expect 3 or 5 years. [...] It would be great if suggestions are immediately accepted, but it is not always the case [...] Someday they [higher officials] may say, ‘let’s examine the report you made 2 years ago’, and then it would be either considered or just left on the shelf forever” (P3)
  16. 16. Post-Decision Processes • No clear decisions followed • But learning from abroad noted by the officials “In making a new policy, having existing examples is very important. It's not we must follow the details of the example, it's more like having a good reference point. […] When we persuade the members of National Assembly or policy makers, it is very effective if we have existing examples from other countries” (P5) “Even though action is not taken immediately following the report, I think we should conduct the research […] It is very common in Korea that policy makers want something in such a short period of time, even within a week. For researchers, making suggestions in a short period of time without enough consideration is such a burden” (P4)
  17. 17. Conclusions ‘while policy change can be the result of learning, learning can be present when outcomes appear to remain stable and not alter at all’ (Dunlop, 2009: 296-7) • Literalist, linear models not supported by our data • Policy transfer networks much looser than suggested • Clear barriers to policy transfer from study tours
  18. 18. Conclusions • • • • But learning valued for own right Timing of learning and decision making mismatched Visceral aspect was emphasised Like tourists: – – – – – Feel a place See the hidden sights A space to reflect Go back with some changed ideas But ‘back to business’ when returning home?
  19. 19. ‘I think there is a saying, that a picture is better than a hundred words. Seeing and not seeing are completely different […] because every country has a different social and cultural context, the level of understanding as well as the depth of impression are different when you just read compared with when you visit, observe and have conversations with people actually working there’ (P4).

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