6.3. Transfer from Context to Context

What factors need to be taken into account when evaluating the cross-national or cross-regional transferability of Knowledge Society policy initiatives?

How are Knowledge Societies transferred among diverse national, regional, or local contexts? Cross-national experience is having an increasingly powerful impact upon decision-makers within the private, public and third sectors. In particular, policy transfer and lesson-drawing is a dynamic activity where knowledge about policies, administrative arrangements or institutions is used across time or space in the development of policies, administrative arrangements and institutions elsewhere (Stone, 2001). The literature suggests that policy permeates and diffuses gradually over time, spreading, dispersing and disseminating ideas or practices from a common source or point of origin (Stone, 2001).

Convergence among policies in diverse contexts allows for the possibility of similar developments taking place in different countries, regions or cities with or without any direct link between them. Countries with similar or comparable economic, social, cultural and political developments develop broadly comparable policy arrangements. When social structures, patterns of economic organization and assemblages of political interest change, then policy also changes. These conditions help explain why there are pressures for reform, but not whether or not it will occur or the form it should take (Stone, 2001).

Networking is an important element in policy transfer among contexts. Networks that join policy makers, governments, researchers, practitioners, entrepreneurs, etc. facilitate the circulation of policy cases and models, and may help policy makers to adapt such cases and models into their own contexts.

However, policy transfer should not be taken lightly. Policy makers should be aware of the characteristics of the environments they are going to operate, the demands of the local population, their historical and geographical contexts, their local culture, and their level of e-readiness before transferring external models that may not respond to local needs.

It is also relevant to identify the obstacles and positive factors that can influence policy transfer. The identification of obstacles allows identification of those factors that can inhibit or slow the process of building or updating the country’s Knowledge Society Policy.

The most common obstacles could be:

  1. Historical and cultural, e.g. resistance to change
  2. The countries’ diverse development levels
  3. Managerial obstacles
  4. Political obstacles, e.g. power struggles
  5. Institutional factors
  6. Infrastructural factors
  7. Geographical factors
  8. Insufficiency of human resources, etc.

The obstacles identified for each one of the proposed goals can be removed by the impulse of accelerating or facilitating factors. Accelerating factors are measures or actions taken at institutional and political levels; they imply coordinated operations between the diverse actors involved. Accelerating factors require financial investments, specialized human resources, communication strategies and training strategies. Institutional changes

It is also important to consider that the implementation of a public policy for Knowledge Societies may require institutional transformations: changes in the legislation, regulation norms, standards, or even new governmental institutions, such as a Knowledge Society Agency. In some cases, these changes may generate conflicts of interest among the diverse actors taking part. The coordinating team or agency should be alert and organize as necessary a debate about each conflictual issue. It may be necessary to analyze best practices in Knowledge Societies in other local, national, and/or international, experiences, as well as examine the institutional and political sustainability capacity, and the necessary agreements between government and other actors involved in KSP.