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Governance by Diffusion

Over the last couple of decades striking similarities in national environmental policy measures have been revealed. Yet, this process of consecutive or even simultaneous adoptions of similar national environmental policies, laws, instruments and institutions, its mechanisms and driving forces as well as its contribution to global environmental governance are poorly understood. The MECGLO research group applies the concept of policy diffusion in order to shed light on this empirical phenomenon.
Going beyond approaches that consider national decisions more or less isolated and separated from similar decisions taken elsewhere the concept of policy diffusion highlights the use of foreign experiences in national decision-making. At the same time, it accounts for the impact of international processes and institutions on domestic policy-making beneath the level of the implementation of formal and legally binding international obligations.
The research analyses the international spread of environmental innovations—such as energy taxes, renewable energy policies, national environmental action plans etc.—across more than forty countries. It aims to test the explanatory potential and to enhance the understanding of the mechanisms and driving forces of policy diffusion as well as its interplay with other mechanisms that contribute to the national parallels in the adoption of environmental policies. Based on its results, it may offer an answer to the question whether policy diffusion constitutes a mechanism of global governance complementary or even alternative to international regimes.