Whose idea was it anyway? The dynamics of international policy transfer and the case of consumption tax reform
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There are a number of unresolved debates among scholars concerning the nature of policy transfer and its implications for policy analysis. For example, scholars of a rationalfunctionalist orientation see the exchange of policy knowledge in positive terms – providing governments with evidence of the benefits and problems associated with policy experiments elsewhere. On the other hand, scholars of a more critical orientation regard policy transfer as having the potential to constrain policy choices and privilege structurally dominant actors in the policy process. Empirically it would seem that many different processes result in policy transfer and that models of policy transfer are best regarded as heuristic devices used to guide research into the policy transfer process. This paper employs such an approach by using the policy transfer literature to gain insights into the origins of one of the most politically contested policy agendas both in Australia and across most industrialised nations in recent years – the introduction of VAT-style consumption taxes.1 The paper begins by mapping the proliferation of VAT-style taxes in the final decades of the 20th Century. The paper then briefly review the policy transfer literature before using it to guide a detail examination of process of policy transfer that led to the proliferation of VATs. The paper concludes by assessing the implications of the VAT case study for both theoretical debates within the policy transfer literature and broader debates about the nature of the policy process.
APSA Conference Newcastle 2006: Abstracts and Refereed Papers
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