Explain what Stone (2012) refers to as 'policy transfer' and 'policy translation'

Question 1:
Explain what Stone (2012) refers to as ‘policy transfer’ and ‘policy translation’. 

Question 2: 
Name the various ways in which research is used in policy formation. Draw on the Kingdon (1993) reading to answer this question.==============================================

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Question 1: Explain what Stone (2012) refers to as ’25 Jul 2017 09:12

Question 1:

Explain what Stone (2012) refers to as ‘policy transfer’ and ‘policy translation’. 



Question 2: 

Name the various ways in which research is used in policy formation. Draw on the Kingdon (1993) reading to answer this question.

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Some answers by other students and lecturer feedback 
Student 1
Ques.1. Drawing on Dolowitz and Marsh (2000)’s definition of policy transfer, Stone (2012) explains that process of policy transfer comprise series of rational actions such as the logical selection of policy ideas, the analysis on specifically targeted circumstances and copying and modification by decision-makers. Also, the process of policy transfer may be in convergence with regard to policy initiatives and principles, but divergence in terms of adopted instruments, institutional modes of policy control and type of legislation.

Regarding to policy translation, Stone supposes that it is in conjunction with policy transfer. In other words, policy translation makes policy transferable and applicable by making policy development to politically, culturally, environmentally and economically fit into targeted locality. He also notices that this translating process is remarkably complex and may lead to the different outcomes rather than being originally envisaged.

Ques.2. Research plays a crucial role in the development of policy. As Kingdon (1993) pointed out, there is a mutual dependence between researchers and policy makers. The policy makers need the researchers in terms of ensuring that the approach employed is supportable and valid by reliable research, meanwhile the researchers need the policy makers to make sure that their research is applicable in the real world. Drawing on the Kingdon’s analyses of the case studies, there are various ways of research significantly involved in policy making process. They are:

– identify the community concerns about policy issues

– discover unseen issues

– provide scientific and practical evidence and expert opinion

– confirm the need for policy actions

– suggest the policy direction to resolve problem

– provide an assessment of the effectiveness of particular policy approaches.

Lecturer feedback 

You provided us with a definition of ‘policy transfer’ that traditionally focused on the ‘role of agency’ (Stone 2012: 485). Stone highlights the limitations of such a definition, and instead considers that policy transfers, to an extent, can be coercive. What does Stone (2012) mean by ‘coercive’?

2. Student 2: 
Stone (2012) article describes the different means by which international policy may be interpreted and defined from its original state/intent and then translated into policy for different stakeholders. This new translation of policy may be similar or a ‘mutant’ representation of the original policy. Either way, the newer version of policy borrows and adapts segments to create a hybrate form of policy that best suits the government or organisational needs. Stone also describes; convergence which is the structual driving force of policy. Policy may not be transferable as it does not suit the unique needs of the intended audience.


Kingdon (1993) discusses the vital role that research has in the development of policy in this case; state governments, however international policy is confined by international standards. Kingdon further states; that research can take decades of investigation to finally be developed into policy, the original policy may be revised and taken in other directions. Research must be rigorous to withstand scrunity. The various ways in which research is used in policy formation are:

an agenda for change
questions that must be answered
to regulate, identify or provide standards
assessment of the effectiveness of a particular set of guidelines and policy approach
accountability by governments 

Lecturer feedback: 
You rightly highlight what Kingdon (1993) claims is the vital role of research in the development of policy. He also suggests that in future, policy makers and researchers will become ‘mutually dependent (Kingdon 1993: 65). Is this the case now in Australia, 24 years on since his publication? Do we see this type of mutually dependent relationship in play? 

Student 3: 
Question 1. Stone (2012) indicates that policy transfer happens when a policy feature is moved from one regime to another regime. This “transfer” can happen across both time and geographical space. The specific policy is unlikely to perfectly fit the adopting regime’s circumstances, so it is likely to require adjustment. The transferred policy ideas are “mutated” (i.e. translated) to enable the amended policy to suit the new circumstances. Early policy research (e.g. Schneider & Ingram 1988) implied that the transfer happens voluntarily (often between relative equals) as the adopting regime seeks to identify and implement “best practice” solutions. Stone highlights (p. 491-492) that not all policy transfer is benign. Organizations, such as the World Bank and IMF are viewed as using coercion to force policy transfer, as they often link their economic support to states adopting prescribed policy solutions.

Question 2. Kingdon (1993) argues the importance of research to gain information (evidence) that can be used to develop, structure, evaluate or change policy and its implementation. He notes that the relevance of research to policy formulation is dependent on the type of policy being developed and also confirms that it is only one component of many that policy decision makers need to take into consideration. He uses case studies within the area of the National Alcohol Policy to illustrate how strong, structured research can assist policy formulation and outcomes.

Lecturer feedback: 
You provide good examples to demonstrate coercion in policy transfer (World Bank and IMF). Stone (2012: 492) also discusses the importance of ‘indirect coercion’, via (for example) courses targeted at developing country policy elites who either resist/reject or accept/adapt the relayed information 

Studnet 4: ‘Policy transfer’ and ‘policy translation’
In summarising various schools within policy literature, Stone (2012) identifies that the concept of policy transfer encompasses social processes of knowledge acquisition (learning, copying, and modifying approaches) and decision making processes that are based on rational deliberations regarding policy ideas and impact. In addition, categories that may entail processes of transfer include institutional structuring (or restructuring), regulation/juridicial change/implementation, citizen movements (as part of the knowledge utilisation processes), and the redevelopment/application of tried and tested policy ideas/goals.

Policy translation approaches emphasises the non-linear nature of policy thereby differing from the notion of transfer (although this can seem margin, the implications are significant). Translation literature essentially posits that social consequences determine and alter policy processes whereby contextuality, appropriateness, temporality, interpretation, experimentation, reflexive learning, and social interaction can play key roles in the stages of policy construction and uptake.

Research employment in policy formation
Examining policy developments in the public health arena, Kingdon (1993) identifies that research input – that aims to determine community perceptions regarding public issues (such as alcohol consumption and its social complexities) – can be employed to determine agendas of change. Once the attitudes and behavioural mechanisms underlying public issues are discovered, research – that is “properly directed at the questions that must be answered” (p. 64S) – can be utilised in the uptake, formulation, and alteration of policy which thereby reflects the wants and needs of the wider community. The process of policy formulation and uptake may be slow, yet the value of research remains central in policy processes.

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