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David P. Dolowitz

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David P. Dolowitz

Compelling stories are essential to policies, and as policies face challenges the stories change. This chapter discusses three distinct but intertwined themes: (i) policy as meta-narrative, (ii) policy as narration, and (iii) policy as narrative-networks. First, policymakers (and other actors) construct general stories that serve to capture and convey a policy initiative in a coherent, repeatable plot. But much of policy also emerges from the interpretive actions of street-level and other actors who actively narrate a policy into existence (possibly changing the script in the process). And, lastly, policy also takes the form of active communities, which we refer to as narrative-networks, which coalesce around a policy initiative and further its realization. These communities can challenge dominant policy narratives. We illustrate these ideas with the example of drug enforcement in the U.S., using contrasting narratives from the Reagan and Obama eras to dramatize the importance of narratives in the policy process.

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David P. Dolowitz

Learning has long been recognised as an important part of the policy process. This linkage dates back to the writings of scholars such as Lasswell, Smith, Dewey, Deutsch, and Simon (Heikkila and Gerlak 2013, 484). Regrettably, while the study of learning has a long history in its own right and in the policy literature, much of the work associated with policy transfer integrates learning in a fairly mechanistic manner: if you have problem X, you can look to system Y for a lesson, then borrow Z from Y, and _ will automatically follow once Z is implemented. This is normally not the situation. The link between learning and policy is considerably more complex at a minimum Z can be transformed on its way toward implementation in Y or combined with other lessons from other systems. It will be the goal of this chapter to develop the link between learning and transfer and subsequently link both to the knowledge updating and policymaking literatures to illustrate how all of these concepts can be linked in order to better explain the transfer and policymaking processes.

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David Dolowitz, Magdaléna Hadjiisky and Romuald Normand

In an increasingly globalized world, the importance and power of international organizations is on the rise. As part of this, the contributors to this volume demonstrated through a range of policies running from education to definitions of what has to be considered as ‘scientific’ that while ‘soft coercion’ is involved in the transfer of policies and programmes from an international organization (IO) to a recipient system, just as often, an IO’s influence is associated with a more subtle form of power, almost neo-Gramscian in nature, involving the production and diffusion of ideas about ‘common’ and ‘shared problems’ and subsequently developing (co-developing) and spreading what become accepted as appropriate or shared ‘solutions’ to these problems. In this process, economic IOs are crucial actors, who often utilize subtle means and processes to gain influence in the shaping of policies. These are often overlooked by studies that underestimate the significance of the micro-processes occurring within and between IOs and their ‘ecosystem’.

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Shaping Policy Agendas

The Micro-Politics of Economic International Organizations

Edited by David Dolowitz, Magdaléna Hadjiisky and Romuald Normand

This fascinating book investigates the strategic importance of the production and dissemination of expertise in the activities of the international organizations (IOs) that have come to symbolize the dominance of the Western political and economic order.
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Edited by David Dolowitz, Magdaléna Hadjiisky and Romuald Normand

This content is available to you

David Dolowitz, Magdaléna Hadjiisky and Romuald Normand

Nowadays, the action of international organizations (IOs) impacts not only domains that require cross-border approaches (peace, trade, etc.), but also understandings of governmental knowledge and accepted practices. This trend transforms IOs into policy agenda shapers, whose authority depends on their ability to make policy problems intelligible and manageable. How do economic IOs (which are the subject of this book) build this symbolic authority? What are the effects of the extension of the expertise of economic IOs into policy domains in which market efficiency and profit were not initially the main driving forces? Nourished by diverse currents of the existing literature – from international relations to science and technology studies, from political economy to political sociology – the Introduction presents the conceptual and methodological framework of the book. It argues in particular that analysing the micro-politics of the construction and dissemination of IOs’ knowledge allows us to interpret the ‘influence’ which is generally given to these IOs.