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Distinctive policy diffusion patterns, processes and actors: drawing implications from the case of sport in international development

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This article examines the diffusion of “Sport for Development and Peace” (SDP) across sub-Saharan Africa following global policy impetus provided by international organizations, including the United Nations, since the start of the twenty-first century. In so doing, the article centres on a geographical region that has been unconsidered in the policy diffusion literature and, particularly, responds to calls for research into the effects of policy characteristics on diffusion mechanisms and patterns. This rationale beget methods that differed from the predominant use of quantitative, dichotomous indicators of policy diffusion, instead integrating data from global, international and national policy documents, from a review of SDP literature, and from stakeholder interviews in Ghana and Tanzania. Patterns of increasing governmental engagement with, but limited implementation of, SDP policies contrasted with the significant expansion of SDP provision by diverse NGOs. In turn, these patterns represented the varying influence of different diffusion mechanisms on state and non-state actors. Compared with the diffusion of other types of policies, these findings indicated the effects of an instrumental, malleable but complex global policy model for SDP diffusion. There is, therefore, significant value in further research that examines how policy diffusion may depend on the configuration of particular policy characteristics, mechanisms and actors.
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Keywords: Sport for development and peace (SDP); non-governmental organizations (NGOs); policy transfer; sport; sub-Saharan Africa

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Durham University, Durham, UK 2: Sports Directorate, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana

Publication date: July 4, 2018

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