Calibrating Coercive Policy Transfer
: An Introduction to Policy Compatibility

  • David Alemna

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    While the concept of policy transfer has caused a rethink in the ways the public policy process is understood, its coercive application in global governance remains debated. Commentators argue the effects of global governance has an unprecedented impact on the national policy-making process. One of such challenges is the question of policy compatibility. Focusing specifically on the socioeconomic impacts of IMF interventions on cross-national convergence, this thesis utilizes a realistic theoretical approach to examine the interactions between global policy subsystems and the national policy settings. Using a case-based configurational methodology, the thesis develops a calibrated approach to the assessment of policy compatibility by connecting global policy interventions with their contextual implementation to realistically evaluate their outcomes.

    The results show that, the policy-making process is not ‘hyperrational’ but rather complex. Through the process of policy transfer, global institutions influence the domestic policy undertakings of member countries in order to stimulate convergence. This has resulted in convergence across human development indicators. However, continental disparities and variations in the domestic undertakings of member nations produced divergence in macroeconomic outcomes, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. Analysing the interactions between the IMF and its member nations, it is observed that the domestic policy reform agenda is steered predominantly by the IMF.

    Isolating a few cases, a detailed document analysis of IMF Letters of Intent shows that policy interventions are often driven by the global markets. However, the national policy capacity and economic resources of a country have a significant effect on the success or otherwise of an IMF intervention. This stresses the totalizing logic of the IMF as its fundamental principles fall back to an overarching neoliberal marketization approach to problem solving. Nevertheless, given the ongoing global penetrations and systemic complexity that may push nations beyond their adaptive capacity, the IMF’s retreat to neoliberal ideologies seems to be a common response. Unfortunately, such responses are profoundly dysfunctional in some cases.

    In view of the above findings, the thesis provides a discussion on the conditions determining policy compatibility and argues a context sensitive approach to the application of coercive policy transfer. It recommends that, in order to effectively stimulate convergence, policies should be tailored to reflect national conditions. Convergence can only be achieved through an acknowledgement of diversity in contextual policy settings.
    Date of AwardSept 2020
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Brighton
    SupervisorPhil Haynes (Supervisor), Kepa Artaraz (Supervisor) & Shadreck Mwale (Supervisor)


    • Coercive Policy Transfer
    • Innovative Methods
    • Dynamic Pattern Synthesis
    • IMF
    • Sub-Saharan Africa
    • Latin America

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