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Policy transfer or policy churn? Institutional isomorphism and neoliberal convergence in the transport sector

Monios, Jason


Jason Monios


While the features of successful policy transfer are well known, there is some evidence that increase in policy transfer is associated with convergence of not just policies but institutional and organisational forms. Institutional isomorphism is often a result of copying organisational form as a way of securing legitimacy rather than seeking successful policy outcomes. It is also influenced by the convergence of the neoliberal paradigm over recent decades which decreases the likelihood of selecting or implementing disruptive policies. This paper interrogates policy transfer as both a normative process of sharing ‘best practice’ and a mimetic process of copying organisational form in order to secure legitimacy. There is a danger that, rather than focusing on good implementation of existing policies, new policies are continually sought, which is often encouraged by isomorphic institutional forms driven by political motivations to reduce public responsibilities for unsuccessful or unpopular policies. The aim of this paper is to develop the conceptual tools for analysis of how and when policy transfer becomes policy churn and the role of institutionally isomorphic tendencies in this transition.


Monios, J. (2017). Policy transfer or policy churn? Institutional isomorphism and neoliberal convergence in the transport sector. Environment and Planning A, 49(2), 351-371.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 8, 2016
Online Publication Date Oct 13, 2016
Publication Date Feb 1, 2017
Deposit Date Mar 2, 2017
Publicly Available Date Mar 3, 2017
Journal Environment and Planning A
Print ISSN 0308-518X
Electronic ISSN 1472-3409
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 49
Issue 2
Pages 351-371
Keywords Policy transfer, institutions, diffusion, neoliberal, convergence, governance, implementation, transport
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