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Follow your Neighbor?: Regional Emulation and the Design of Transparency Policies

[working paper]

Berliner, Daniel

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Corporate Editor Freie Universität Berlin, FB Politik- und Sozialwissenschaften, Otto-Suhr-Institut für Politikwissenschaft Kolleg-Forschergruppe "The Transformative Power of Europe"
Abstract How do countries make policy in an uncertain world? Do policymakers look inward, rationally designing policies to fit domestic interests, ideas, and institutions? Or do they look outward, imitating policy elements from other countries? And if the latter, where do they look? Focusing on the specific policy area of Freedom of Information laws, I argue that regional emulation plays an important role in shaping policy design. Policymakers face substantial uncertainty over the consequences of different design choices, and so emulate other countries as policy models. I further argue that, due to availability bias, countries in thesame region serve as the most important such models. After reviewing numerous examples of such emulation, I model the policy similarity between 4,096 pairs of countries, and find that countries in the same region, or more geographically proximate, tend to have more similar laws than other country-pairs. These results are robust to different categorizations of region, fixed effects capturing country-specific features, and testing against alternative forms of emulation as well as alternative diffusion mechanisms of competition, coercion, conditionality, and learning. This approach also highlights the diffusion of policy design, as opposed to adoption, as an important future direction for policy diffusion research.
Keywords freedom of information; political decision; decision making process; policy implementation; decision making; regional comparison; political reform; reform; government; political actor
Classification Basic Research, General Concepts and History of Political Science; Political Process, Elections, Political Sociology, Political Culture
Document language English
Publication Year 2013
City Berlin
Page/Pages 28 p.
Series KFG Working Paper Series, 55
ISSN 1868-7601
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Deposit Licence - No Redistribution, No Modifications