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Policy mimesis in the context of global governance

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The concept of 'policy transfer' is contested. Earlier work has discussed the defining traits, but generally concluded that the dissimilarities of regional and local implementation ensure a simple transfer in the form of a generic template remains elusive (Common 2001). The argument of this article is that it is more accurate to refer to policy mimesis, the imitation or reproduction of a policy in another context, rather than a simple transposition across geographical and political boundaries. There are levels of isomorphism within a given public administration. Both coercive and mimetic isomorphism, as well as professionalization, act as intrinsic dynamics to successful policy mimesis and its impact within policy networks to effect isomorphic recombination. The importance of locating policy analysis within its proper context includes giving due cognisance to time, chronologically and historically, as well as social culture, political culture, economics and geographical location (Pollitt 2008). This article is not an attempt to apply any one theoretical perspective, but a discussion as to why each attempted transfer of a policy is unique. Reference is made to a case study, the successful privatization of Kenya Airways (KQ) which is explored in more detail elsewhere (Massey 2010), as an example of policy mimesis and an explanation of the role of different 'triggers' and dynamics that drove the process forward as part of the global advance of New Public Management, an adjunct to many aspects of global governance.
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Keywords: Kenya Airways; New Public Management; global governance; globalization; isomorphism; policy mimesis; policy transfer

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Politics, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK

Publication date: June 1, 2009

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