An Insight into Policy Transfer Processes Within an EU Project and Implications for Future Project Design

An Insight into Policy Transfer Processes Within an EU Project and Implications for Future Project Design


C O'Dolan, Edinburgh Napier University, UK; T Rye, Lund University, SE


Five different methods of policy transfer are examined within the EU-funded Active Access project in terms of transferring knowledge about and gaining political support for walking and cycling. Implications for future project design are discussed.


Policy transfer is the process of applying a policy, or knowledge that informs a policy, from one setting to another. It is considered to be an effective way for cities, municipalities or countries to learn from one another, solving local problems without having to reinvent the wheel, and is documented by many (e.g. Evans 2009, Common 2011) to be a process that is being used with increasing frequency. The European Union(EU) provides the ideal platform for knowledge exchange between member states and its various funding streams for multi-national projects, especially so. To date there has been little research into the effectiveness of EU-funded projects for facilitating such policy transfer and in particular which particular processes within them were most effective at delivering the transfer. A recent review of the literature available on policy transfer in the field of transport (Marsden & Stead 2011) found that the most common method of studying policy transfer involves case study analysis. Whilst this method has many advantages and conclusions can be drawn from extensive literature reviews such as that conducted by Marsden & Stead, it becomes difficult to directly compare transfer processes when what is being transferred, by whom and in what context are such great variables. By stabilising these variables, this paper seeks to gain insight into the effectiveness of different processes of policy transfer by investigating the role of five different policy transfer mechanisms that occurred within one multi-national project. Funded by Intelligent Energy Europe, the Active Access project aimed to encourage walking and cycling for short trips to improve health and the local economy and in doing so, save energy. With a great variation in experience of, and local political support for, active travel amongst the 11 applications partners from 10 European countries, the project was designed to maximise the transfer of knowledge between partner?s cities and countries and utilise the best-practice knowledge of the 4 additional support partners. This paper reviews five key processes within the project designed to facilitate this - walking audits, stakeholder exchange workshop, shadowing, analysis of best practice and overall participation within the project in terms of raising awareness of and building political support for walking and cycling and transferring new ideas about active modes between project partners. The processes are analysed under a framework for policy transfer (Dolowitz and Marsh 2000) focusing on how effective those involved perceived the different methods of transfer, through quantitative and qualitative analysis of questionnaires completed by the project partners. The analysis shows that cultural differences impose barriers on some processes and not others and that whilst the more innovative approaches of conducting walking audits, a stakeholder exchange event and shadowing were valued as transfer processes, overall participation in the project and studying best practice examples were deemed the most effective. The results of the qualitative analysis presented within this paper give further insight into why this is the case and the implications for the design of future multi-national projects in order to maximise effective policy transfer, is discussed.


Association for European Transport