Policy diffusion and development cooperation are two intrinsically intertwined fields of research. However, each research area has followed a specific path, resulting in development of independent research agendas and the emergence of specific concepts, methods and theories to interpret their objects of study. In many ways, analysis of issues from the current global order would benefit if these two disciplines became closer. The most evident aspect the fields share is that policy diffusion frequently takes place directly or indirectly via international cooperation. Sometimes, diffusion is a key part of development cooperation projects. This became more frequent in the realm of the so-called south–south cooperation, where policy models developed in emerging economies such as Brazil were transferred to Latin America, Africa and Asia.
Policy diffusion promoted by domestic and foreign actors via development cooperation raises several questions that remain unexplored and overlooked by the literature. These deserve more attention to amplify knowledge in the fields. How do development cooperation and diffusion create new power relations? Which identities, ideas and narratives are being (re)produced? Which actors, private and public (e.g. think-tanks, foundations, corporations, networks, states, international organisations), are engaged in these processes? When do resistance dynamics – from governments and civil society – emerge around transfer impositions? What is being transferred (ideas, models, interests, national coalitions, elites, discourses, etc.), to where (city, state, international organisation) and how it is being translated to other contexts? In which spaces or institutions are models being legitimised (or delegitimized) and diffusion encouraged? How do these arenas operate? Do policy diffusion and development cooperation lead to mutual learning? In what way do staff recruitment and reconfiguration of international organisations’ bureaucracy impact upon policy diffusion and development cooperation?
The use of development cooperation as a soft power strategy by states is not new. The difference relates to recently emergent actors and mechanisms, resulting in a reconfiguration of soft power resources. Brazil progressively became more interested in promoting its policies abroad. Indeed, social policies were part of the Brazilian foreign affairs strategy (Pimenta de Faria, 2012). Policies relating to, for example, conditional cash transfer programs, food purchase and health, were transferred from Brazil to Latin American and African partners (Leite, Peres, 2013; Cabral, Shankland, Favaretto, 2014). China invested heavily in development cooperation in Africa in different areas, promoting a narrative, which insisted on a “mutual benefit” model. However, new forms of imperialism can be seen in the solidarity claims of south–south cooperation (Alden, Large, Soares de Oliveira, 2008).
International organisations have been operating directly in states more frequently, globalising public policies (Woods, 2008). Such organisations intervene in areas where competences should be of national states. Programs for, for example, social assistance, urban planning, political participation, education, infrastructure and administrative modernisation, are the objects of international organisational actions. These organisations do not work alone, but frequently collaborate with other agencies and local non-governmental organisations. In addition, private foundations – such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – were responsible for funding projects involving the transfer of food security programs in African countries. The Rockefeller Foundation has also provided resources for resilient cities. World Bank projects for developing participatory budgeting were crucial for its worldwide diffusion and especially for implementing this device in sub-Saharan Africa (Porto de Oliveira, 2017). In different cases, the World Bank, for example, operates in association with different national cooperation agencies, such as Swiss, Swedish and German agencies. The FAO also works with the British DFID to produce public policies in developing countries. These institutions frequently recommend models, directly fund policy implementation and evaluation, and offer training courses for building expertise.
Diffusion and development cooperation are part of international (or global) public policymaking (Coleman, 2012; Petiteville, Smith, 2006). Coordination of these processes frequently takes place at summits, events and forums such as the recent Habitat III (Quito), Rio+20 (Rio de Janeiro), Cop-21 (Paris), 4th High Level Forum for Aid and Development (Busan), and so on (Hassenteufel, 2006). At these events, actors meet, form networks, promote policies, dispute for space and funding, sign agreements of cooperation, legitimate ideas, share them and concede awards (Eykut, Foyer, Morena, 2017). Moreover, these arenas can represent tipping points and starting points for paradigm shifts (Mawdsley, Savage, Kim, 2014).
Far from being a consensual process, governments and civil society have been resisting foreign models and aid in different forms, either adapting instruments of public action to local interests or even through rejection. Inversely, the use of transfer and cooperation as a strategy to legitimise policies at domestic level is also a current practice. Transfers cannot be considered as merely copies of foreign models abroad, but involve adaptation. In particular, translations can take place in the realm of discourse, political ideas and institutional design.
Despite the existence of consolidated research fields in the study of policy diffusion and development cooperation, more dialogue among scholars from these two research traditions is necessary. Taking into account the specializations of the two research traditions, which have been producing divisions among scholars, we also understand that collaboration and convergence is needed for a more profound, complementary and broader understanding of the phenomena. In short, the spirit of the conference is to build more bridges and break down walls that divide us. Moreover, it is important to produce and circulate knowledge from the south in collaboration with northern colleagues in a more democratic and inclusive way. The International Conference on Policy Diffusion and Development Cooperation is a continuation of the biennial conference first launched at CEBRAP in Brazil in 2016. Our aim is to build a global network of scholars interested in these discussion themes, fostering research and debate on cutting-edge themes in this field.
International Conference on Policy Diffusion and Development Cooperation – 16-19 May 2018 Sao Paulo-Brazil
The conference debate will take place across 11 panels organized by conveners from different countries and disciplines.
Instructions on how to submit a paper are provided here.
List of panels
- Disentangling the Role of Culture in Policy and Institutional Transfers
- Conveners: Markus Taube (University of Duisburg-Essen), Liu Tao (University of Duisburg-Essen), Katharina Borgmann (University of Duisburg-Essen), Giulia C. Romano (University of Duisburg-Essen)
- International Actors: Private Consultants and Policy Advisory Organizations
- Conveners: Diane Stone (University of Canberra), Leslie A. Pal (Carleton University), Osmany Porto de Oliveira (Federal University of Sao Paulo-Unifesp)
- International Policy Learning and the Accountability Politics of Pluralistic Health Systems
- Conveners: Gerry Bloom (IDS), Vera Schattan P Coelho (CEBRAP/CEM/UFABC)Alex Shankland (IDS), Denise Namburete (N’Weti)
- Making Southern Urban Policies: International Agendas, Transnational Networks and National Programmes
- Conveners: Roberta Sakai (King’s College London), Gabriela De Brelàz (Unifesp), Abigail Friendly (University of Utrecht)
- Methodologies of Policy Transfer: Conceptual Tools and Analytical Strategies for Contemporary Studies
- Conveners: David Dolowitz (University of Liverpool), Osmany Porto de Oliveira (Federal University of Sao Paulo-Unifesp)
- Non-Governmental Actors and South-South Cooperation
- Conveners: Melissa Pomeroy (Articulação Sul), Iara Costa Leite (Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina)
- Participatory Institutions: Circulations, Scales and National Frameworks
- Conveners: Brian Wampler (Boise University), Gilles Pradeau (GIS Participation), Joseph-Désiré Som-1 (Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient, Université Sorbonne Paris Cité)
- Policy Diffusion in (Inter)National Peace and Security: The Spread of Southern Responses on Peace Operations, Policing, Drug Trafficking and Terrorism
- Conveners: Samuel Alves Soares (UNESP/Programa de Pós-Graduação San Tiago Dantas), Danilo Marcondes de Souza Neto (PUC-Rio)
- South-North Learning? The Travel, Transfer, and Diffusion of Ideas, Models, and Policies through Development Cooperation
- Conveners: Jennifer Constantine (King’s College London), Alex Shankland (Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex)
- Social Policy Diffusion
- Conveners: Cecilia Osorio Gonnet (Universidad Alberto Hurtado), Cristiane Kerches da Silva Leite (Universidade de São Paulo)
- The 21st Century Green Revolution and Technology Transfers in the Global South
- Conveners: Lídia Cabral (Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex), Poonam Pandey (Centre for Studies in Science Policy, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India), Xiuli Xu (China Agriculture University)
The International Conference on Policy Diffusion and Development Cooperation aims to bring together local and international participants. Since this is an international event, those wishing to participate in the plenary discussions will require a minimum level of fluency in English and only submissions in English will be accepted.
Only proposals presenting research findings will be eligible. Applicants must be at least in the latter stages of study for a Masters in order to present at the sessions.
Undergraduate students are invited to present their research as a poster.
Abstracts of proposed papers and posters are due by 15 November 2017. All applicants will be notified by 15 December 2017. Complete papers are due by 1st April 2018.
Submissions can be done here.
ALDEN, C.; LARGE, D.; SOARES, De O., R. (Eds.) 2008. China returns to Africa: a superpower and a continent embrace. Hurst, London.
COLEMAN, W. 2012. Governance and Global Public Policy. IN: LEVI-FAUR, D. (Ed.). The Oxford Handbook of Governance. Oxford University Press. Oxford. P. 673-685.
EYKUT, S. C.; FOYER, J; MORENA, E. 2017. Globalising the Climate: COP21 and the climatisation of global debates. Routledge.
LEITE, C. K. S.; PERES, U. D. Origem e disseminação do Programa Bolsa Família: aproximações analíticas com o caso mexicano. Revista do Serviço Público, v. 64, p. 351-376, 2013.
MAWDSLEY, E.; SAVAGE, L,; KING, S. A ‘post-aid world’? Paradigm shift in foreign aid and development cooperation at the 2011 Busan High Level Forum. The Geographical Journal. V. 180, N. 1. P, 27-38.
PETITEVILLE, P.; SMITH, A. Analyser les politiques publiques internationales. Revue Française de Science Politique, v. 3. p. 357-366, 2006.
PIMENTA DE FARIA, C. A. A difusão de políticas sociais como estratégia de inserção internacional: Brasil e Venezuela comparados. Interseções, v. 14, n. 2, p. 335-371, dez 2012.
PORTO DE OLIVEIRA, O. (2017). International Policy Diffusion and Participatory Budgeting: Ambassadors of Participation, International Institutions and Transnational Networks. London, Palgrave Macmillan.WOODS, N. 2006. The Globalizers: The IMF, the World
WOODS, N. 2006. The Globalizers: The IMF, the World Bank and Their Borrowers. Cornell University Press. p. 69-54