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Policy transfer and learning in the field of transport: A review of concepts and evidence


  • Marsden, Greg
  • Stead, Dominic


This paper presents a state-of-art review of why and how policies and policy lessons in the transport planning arena are transferred between cities. It begins by drawing on literature from the fields of political science, public administration, organisational learning and management to outline a conceptual framework for policy transfer and learning. This framework is then used to structure a review of policy transfer literature in the fields of transport and planning policy. Although there is only a limited amount of literature on policy transfer in this field, the findings suggest that transport has much in common with other areas of public policy in terms of the main aspects and influences on policy transfer. As well as being part of a process for introducing new ideas into countries or cities, policy transfer in the transport sector (as in other areas of public policy) can also be a highly politicised process that seeks to justify preferred solutions. Little is known about the relative importance of different parts of the transfer process or the extent to which learning about policies in other areas can influence the effectiveness of policy design in the transport arena and/or policy outcomes. The paper concludes with some research and methodological recommendations that may help to answer these questions. It is suggested that policy transfer concepts can be important to both practitioners and researchers in the transport arena, particularly given the pressures to seek solutions to accelerate progress to a more sustainable future.

Suggested Citation

  • Marsden, Greg & Stead, Dominic, 2011. "Policy transfer and learning in the field of transport: A review of concepts and evidence," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 492-500, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:trapol:v:18:y:2011:i:3:p:492-500

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jon Shaw & Danny MacKinnon & Iain Docherty, 2009. "Divergence or convergence? Devolution and transport policy in the United Kingdom," Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 27(3), pages 546-567, June.
    2. Wang, Rui, 2010. "Shaping urban transport policies in China: Will copying foreign policies work?," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 147-152, May.
    3. Bennett, Colin J., 1991. "What Is Policy Convergence and What Causes It?," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 21(02), pages 215-233, April.
    4. van den Bergh, J.C.J.M. & van Leeuwen, E.S. & Oosterhuis, F.H. & Rietveld, P. & Verhoef, E.T., 2007. "Social learning by doing in sustainable transport innovations: Ex-post analysis of common factors behind successes and failures," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 247-259, March.
    5. Howlett, Michael, 2000. "Beyond Legalism? Policy Ideas, Implementation Styles and Emulation-Based Convergence in Canadian and U.S. Environmental Policy," Journal of Public Policy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 20(03), pages 305-329, December.
    6. Kristine Kern & Harriet Bulkeley, 2009. "Cities, Europeanization and Multi-level Governance: Governing Climate Change through Transnational Municipal Networks," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47, pages 309-332, March.
    7. Low, Nicholas & Astle, Rachel, 2009. "Path dependence in urban transport: An institutional analysis of urban passenger transport in Melbourne, Australia, 1956-2006," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 47-58, March.
    8. Tore Langmyhr, 1999. "Understanding innovation: The case of road pricing," Transport Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(3), pages 255-271, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Börjesson, Maria & Brundell-Freij, Karin & Eliasson, Jonas, 2014. "Not invented here: Transferability of congestion charges effects," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 263-271.
    2. repec:eee:retrec:v:60:y:2016:i:c:p:44-53 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:eee:transa:v:110:y:2018:i:c:p:149-160 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Morten Skou Nicolaisen & Patrick A. Driscoll, 2016. "An International Review of Ex-Post Project Evaluation Schemes in the Transport Sector," Journal of Environmental Assessment Policy and Management (JEAPM), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 18(01), pages 1-33, March.
    5. repec:eee:transa:v:101:y:2017:i:c:p:238-251 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Tilmann Rave, 2016. "Diffusion von Politikinnovationen im Mehrebenensystem der Energiewende – Erkenntnisse aus drei kommunalen Fallstudien," ifo Forschungsberichte, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, number 74.
    7. O’Dolan, Catriona & Rye, Tom, 2012. "An insight into policy transfer processes within an EU project and implications for future project design," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 273-283.
    8. Dorina Pojani & Dominic Stead, 2015. "Sustainable Urban Transport in the Developing World: Beyond Megacities," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(6), pages 1-22, June.
    9. Macmillen, James & Stead, Dominic, 2014. "Learning heuristic or political rhetoric? Sustainable mobility and the functions of ‘best practice’," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 79-87.
    10. Hallgrimsdottir, Berglind & Wennberg, Hanna & Svensson, Helena & Ståhl, Agneta, 2016. "Implementation of accessibility policy in municipal transport planning – Progression and regression in Sweden between 2004 and 2014," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 196-205.
    11. repec:eee:trapol:v:59:y:2017:i:c:p:17-27 is not listed on IDEAS


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