Bogotá has become a sustainable urban transport reference for many cities around the world, both in the global North and the South. This chapter shows that the rapid and global circulation of Bogotá’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system Transmilenio and car-free programme Ciclov'a is related to the existence of a set of experts who have persuaded mayors and local leaders around the world to adopt these policies in their home cities rather than to the technical merits of the policies themselves. These experts were able to enact persuasion thanks to a powerful – yet simplified – narrative that linked Bogotá’s urban transformation to these transport policies; a set of artefacts, including videos, photographs and moving quotes, that connected local leaders with the policies in an emotional way; and the building of policy ‘buzz’ and trust between these experts and local leaders that was facilitated through face-to-face encounters in conferences. Thus, the chapter reveals how the mobilisation of simplified stories of urban transformation and development are key actions behind the global circulation of urban policies; how policy learning is not exclusively a rational process but rather one influenced by emotional connection; and how conferences and policy forums are still important arenas where persuasion is enacted.
Tom Baker, Mauricio I. Dussauge-Laguna, Roosa Jolkkonen, Olga Löblová, Pauline McGuirk, Sergio Montero, Michelle Morais de Sá e Silva, Alexandru Rusu, Titilayo Soremi, Jennifer Spence, Christopher Walker and Astrid Wood
Like philosophy, the study of policy circulation has become pluralistic and we too are faced with the question of how best to respond to such pluralism. This chapter, and the book it summarises along the way, offers one way forward. First, the chapter discusses a range of possibilities open to scholars of policy circulation in grappling with the plurality of their research field. Inspired by recent discussions in other heterodox fields of social scientific research, we argue that, to date, policy circulation studies have often been fragmented under the labels of policy diffusion, transfer, learning or mobilities. This exemplifies a form of ‘fragmenting pluralism’ that falls short of proper dialogic interaction across different research traditions and disciplines (Dolowitz and Marsh, 2012; McCann and Ward, 2012) and, indeed, often becomes an obstacle to advance knowledge on the what, how and why of policy circulation (Dussauge-Laguna, 2012; Cook, 2015). Following Bernstein (1989), we suggest that consciously embarking on a collegiate project of ‘engaged pluralism’ offers one route to a trans-disciplinary, not simply multi-disciplinary, research endeavour. Second, the chapter discusses the practices involved in creating the ‘trading zones’ (Barnes and Sheppard, 2010) through which engaged pluralism might take root in policy circulation studies, including a commitment to intellectual openness, the creation of venues for dialogue, and the (de/re)construction of coordinating concepts. We recount the circumstances involved in the creation of this book as a humble, and in many ways accidental, example of such practices.