Policy Transfer, Disaster Affected Governments and Recovery

An Exploratory Study on the Role of Policy Transfer Processes in the Ability of ‘Ad Hoc Post-Disaster Governmental Recovery Agencies’ to be Instrumental in ‘Build Back Better’ Recovery Efforts

Master's Thesis, 2011

98 Pages, Grade: 75%


Table of Contents


List of Figures

List of Tables



1. Introduction
1.1. Problem Statement and Research Question
1.2. Objectives
1.3. Research Design
1.4. Utility

2. Literature Review and Theoretical Framework
2.1. Literature Review: Achieving Greater Quality & Accountability
2.2. Studying Policy Transfer Using Conceptual/Analytical Frameworks

3. Methodology
3.1. Comparative Method
3.2. Reliability and Validity
3.2. Case Selection
3.3. Conclusion

4. Policy Transfer: a Conceptual/Analytical Framework
4.1. Policy Transfer as a Dependent Variable
4.2. Supporting Techniques for the Conceptual Framework
4.3. Policy Transfer as an Independent Variable
4.4. Conclusion

5. Third Variables: Disaster Impact and Political Context
5.1. Impact of Disaster: Indonesia
5.2. Impact of Disaster: Haiti
5.3. Political Context: Indonesia
5.4. Political Context: Haiti
5.5. Conclusion

6. Policy Transfer – Comparing the BRR and IHRC
6.1. Organisational Structure and Mandate: BRR
6.2. Organisational Structure and Mandate: IHRC
6.3. Funding Mechanisms: BRR
6.4. Funding Mechanisms: IHRC
6.5. Anti-Corruption Measures: BRR
6.6. Anti-Corruption Measures: IHRC
6.7. Activity Prioritisation: BRR
6.8. Activity Prioritisation: IHRC
6.9. Conclusion

7. Analysis: Policy Transfer as Two Variable Types
7.1. Policy Transfer as a Dependent Variable
7.2. Policy Transfer as an Independent Variable

8. Conclusion and Recommendations
8.1. Concluding Step by Step
8.2. Recommendations for Future Research



I would like to take the opportunity here to thank a number of people who were crucial in making this paper possible. First of all I would like to thank my parents as well as the Irish, Dutch and other European taxpayers for providing me with the resources to live in Ireland and attend university.

I would like to thank the all of the UCD NOHA staff for a great year of interesting lectures. In particular I would like to thank Pat Gibbons, Anne Markey, Jim Phelan and Ronan McDermott. Pat Gibbons was always happy to exchange ideas on thesis related topics and provided me with some valuable contacts. Anne Markey was great in providing some much needed answers to questions I had regarding methodology. I would like to thank my tutor Jim Phelan for providing me with practical guidance at the start and recommendations to my first draft. Also, I would like to thank Ronan McDermott for suggesting the inclusion of policy transfer theory in the thesis.

I would like to thank John Telford, one of the lead contributing authors on the Tsunami Evaluation Coalition (TEC) for providing me with guidance and direction when I was in the brainstorming phase of the paper. He was the one to suggest a focus on the role that disaster affected governments might have on the quality and accountability of a humanitarian response.

I would also like to thank some of my colleagues at DARA, Madrid for sharing their experienced insights and providing me with a number of different resources and contacts. Riccardo Polastro and Fernando Espada were particularly forthcoming in their assistance towards me.

I would like to thank Alister Macintyre, moderator of the ‘Haiti Earthquake Disaster Relief’ group on LinkedIn for providing me with various resources and insights.

I would like to thank Peter Starke from the University of Bremen for sending me his unpublished draft paper ‘Sir Francis Galton’s Stepchildren: Qualitative Methods for the Study of Policy Diffusion’.

Furthermore, I would like to thank Esteban Sacco, the head of OCHA in Haiti and Ugo Blanco of the UNDP and the Early Recovery Cluster Coordinator for providing me with invaluable contacts of people in Haiti which were used for interview purposes.

Last, but certainly not least I would like to thank all those people that took time out of their busy schedules to allow me to interview them. Although they remain anonymous in this thesis, the information they provided and the insights I gleaned from them are a core component of what made this paper possible.

Ralph Myers

27/11/2011, Maputo

List of Figures

Figure 1 - From Lesson Drawing to Coercive Transfer

Figure 2 - The Rapid Research to Policy Framework

Figure 3 - Lindquist’s Organisation Capacity Approach

Figure 4 – Integrated Conceptual/Analytical Framework for Policy Transfer

Figure 5 - Countries Affected by 2004 IO Earthquake & Tsunami

Figure 6 - Earthquake Damage Map Haiti 2010

Figure 7 - lindquist’s Organisation Capacity Approach - Indonesia

Figure 8 - lindquist’s Organisation Capacity Approach - Haiti

Figure 9 - Organisational Structure Executive Board BRR in 2005 and 2008

Figure 10 - IHRC Organisational Structure

Figure 11 – Fund Chanelling Mechanisms Indonesia

Figure 12 – The HRF Governance Structure

Figure 13 – Actions Taken by the BRR to Uphold Integrity

List of Tables

Summary Box 1 – Third Variables

Summary Box 2 – Organisational Structure

Summary Box 3 – Funding Mechanisms

Summary Box 4 – Anti-Corruption Measures

Summary Box 5 – Activity Prioritisation

Summary Box 6 – Policy Transfer Analysis – Comparing the BRR and IHRC

Summary Box 7 – Complete Conceptual/Analytical Framework


Since the humanitarian response to the 1994 Rwanda genocide, there has been a growing body of literature on quality and accountability in humanitarian action. One of the most recent trends has been a focus on ‘humanitarian cooperation’ between the governments of disaster affected countries and other humanitarian actors. The research presented in this paper builds on this trend by comparing two governmental recovery agencies, namely the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC) and the Aceh Nias Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency (BRR).

Through a review of the literature on policy transfer, the creation of an integrated conceptual/analytical framework for policy transfer and the application of Lijphart’s ‘comparative method’, the research attempts to identify both whether or not policy transfer occurred between the two contexts, as well as the possible causes for the difference in both agencies’ ability to ‘build back better’. The outcomes of the research are then used to suggest possible areas of future research and related hypotheses.


illustration not visible in this excerpt

1. Introduction

As the recent background paper to the 26th annual Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance (ALNAP) meeting confirmed: “we are seeing a shift away from a model of mostly ‘humanitarian assistance’, whereby aid is provided to disaster affected populations by international agencies, to one which brings in a measure of ‘humanitarian cooperation’ where national governments are supported and enabled to respond as effectively as possible.” (Harvey, 2011: 4).

This shift is, for a large part, due to the earlier shift in attitude with regards to improving the accountability of humanitarian aid agencies and the quality of relief, in the wake of the humanitarian response to the 1994 Rwanda genocide (Dufour et al., 2004; Deloffre, 2010; Telford et al., 2006). Various quality initiatives, such as the Humanitarian Accountability Partnership (HAP) and the Sphere Project, were implemented in the years following the Joint Evaluation Report, which had the objective of assessing how humanitarian NGOs could improve in quality and accountability (Tong, 2004). One of the focuses has been on greater right holder accountability (also known as downward accountability), as well as greater interaction with local organisations and national governments, particularly in the context of natural disasters.

In 2005, two months after an earthquake off the coast of Indonesia caused a number of devastating tsunamis, the Tsunami Evaluation Coalition (TEC) carried out the most intensive study of a relief response since the multi-donor Rwanda evaluations. The study found that, despite the increase in such quality initiatives as mentioned above, many recommendations flowing out of these initiatives had not been adhered to (Telford et al., 2006). Despite this criticism to the humanitarian response, one of the aspects the TEC and later evaluations were positive about, was the creation of the ‘Aceh and Nias Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency’ (BRR) and the way in which it was supported by various agencies and donors (Bennett et al., 2006; Brusset & Bhatt, 2009).

Five years later in Haiti, an earthquake of a magnitude 7.0 on the Richter scale, caused widespread destruction. Similarly to the 2004 Indian Ocean disaster, the earthquake evoked a larger than normal humanitarian response. According to the 2010 Humanitarian Response Index (HRI), the level of media exposure in combination with a massive donor and INGO response was not the only similarity with the 2004 Indian Ocean disaster (DARA, 2010). The Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC), a body staffed by Haitians and supported by internationals, was modelled on the BRR (Bridges et al., 2010). Despite this, some sources report that the Haitian government has been significantly marginalised, especially in the early stages of the relief effort (DARA, 2010).

1.1. Problem Statement and Research Question

The thesis is primarily concerned with the role of disaster affected governments in leading post-disaster recovery efforts. As the above background to this paper alludes to, despite the increased focus on disaster affected governments taking a lead role in relief and rehabilitation, particularly ‘building back better’, some governments are more successful in fulfilling this role than others. This is the central problem identified for this thesis and therefore the central subject of investigation. More specifically, the thesis examines what is the effect of policy transfer processes on the ability of ‘ad hoc post-disaster governmental recovery agencies’ to be instrumental in ‘build back better’ recovery efforts? This forms the central research question which will guide the thesis.

1.2. Objectives

The overall objective for this thesis is to generate hypotheses relating to the role of policy transfer processes in the ability of ‘ad hoc post-disaster governmental recovery agencies’ to be instrumental in ‘build back better’ recovery efforts. The focus on generating hypotheses and thus laying the groundwork for future studies comes as a result of the small-N comparative nature of the thesis, which reduces the generalizability of the research findings. This is discussed further in the Methodology section. The three specific objectives of this thesis are:

1. Identify a recognised guiding theoretical framework on policy transfer and complement it with similar frameworks grounded in research on development and humanitarian action, thereby creating an integrated conceptual/analytical framework.
2. Determine whether policy transfer has taken place between the BRR and IHRC (policy transfer as a dependent variable).
3. Determine, in reference to the theory presented in the integrated policy transfer framework, what the impact of the various policy transfer processes is on ability of the BRR and IHRC respectively to be instrumental in ‘building back better’ (policy transfer as an independent variable).

1.3. Research Design

As mentioned, the methodology employed in this thesis will involve the use of an integrated conceptual/analytical framework. This framework will not only be used as a tool to methodically structure the research (conceptual), but also to present theory against which the relationship between dependent and independent variables can be explained (analytical). To add validity to the research, this thesis will employ Lijphart’s (1971) comparative method, which involves choosing cases with a high degree of corresponding third (a.k.a. background) variables, but discrepant dependent variables. The cases identified are that of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC) set up after the 2010 Haiti earthquake and the Aceh and Nias Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency (BRR) set up after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquakes and tsunami. The justifications for these choices are given in their respective paragraphs.

Both third and independent variables are identified and presented as such in the conceptual/analytical policy transfer frameworks. The dependent variable, identified as ‘building back better’, will (unorthodoxly) be explained and justified near the end of the thesis, in the Analysis section, as it allows the reader to gain a greater contextual understanding of the definition for the cases of the BRR and IHRC.

Further validity is added to the research through the identification of triangulation as an appropriate method for application to qualitative research. The thesis will primarily use triangulation of data sources over triangulation of methods in order to increase the validity of the research, as the subject of the research is primarily fact based rather than opinion based (e.g. organisational structure, funding mechanisms, etc.). Thus it is more important that the ‘trustworthiness’ of the sources is accounted for, rather than uncovering common attitudes or opinions.

The final analysis will examine whether policy transfer occurred between the BRR and IHRC, thus analysing policy transfer as a dependent variable. It will also examine the relationship between the dependent and independent variables and how the theory presented in the conceptual/analytical policy transfer frameworks accounts for this. This will finally allow for the generation of hypotheses and the recommendation of future areas of research.

1.4. Utility

As stated in the main objective, the principal utility of this thesis will be to lay the groundwork for future research on the subject of the creation (through policy transfer) and ‘success’ of ‘ad hoc post-disaster governmental recovery agencies’, through the generation of hypotheses.

The utility of this thesis is also apparent in that it adds to a relatively unexplored field of research. According to Harvey (2011: 32): “there is ample documentation of critical evaluations showing the tendency of international humanitarian aid to undermine national capacities, but much less of efforts to work with and strengthen national actors.” This ‘side-lining’ within the academic sector is also evident in the field, as one ALNAP report puts it: “humanitarian performance has rarely lived up to agency rhetoric with regard to building the formal capacities of civil society. When it comes to governance, there is not even much rhetoric.” (Christoplos, 2005: 57). This is particularly the case for governmental recovery agencies created after a disaster occurs, as supporting and enabling governments in responding effectively is usually done within disaster prevention or disaster risk reduction settings and not during the actual relief or recovery response.

Finally, the two agencies studied were only created relatively recently, with follow up evaluations by the TEC and BRR only having been released in 2009 and new secondary source relating to the IHRC being published every week. The key informant interviews intended to fill the gaps in the secondary source data for the IHRC, additionally have the effect of contributing to the data available on the agency.

2. Literature Review and Theoretical Framework

In order to place this thesis in its proper context a review of the literature preceding this paper is warranted. The specific subject of policy transfer between ‘ad hoc post-disaster governmental recovery agencies’ has, to the author’s knowledge, thus far not been written about from an academic perspective. The current section therefore examines the literature that has been built up over the years, culminating in the renewed interest of academics and practitioners alike for the role of disaster affected governments in all of the post-disaster phases.

Besides examining the literature available on the general subject of the thesis, this section also examines the literature providing the theoretical foundation for this thesis. This sub-section does not necessarily give a broad overview of the literature on policy transfer, rather it gives a conceptual/analytical framework (Dolowitz & Marsh, 2000) which is recognised as being the foundation of most contemporary policy transfer theory (Benson & Jordan, 2011). This conceptual/analytical framework is then contrasted with two similar frameworks, which are grounded in development and humanitarian practice and studies (Jones et al., 2009; Weyrauch & Langou, 2011).

2.1. Literature Review: Achieving Greater Quality & Accountability

The main inspiration for this thesis comes from an ALNAP report on the 26th annual meeting, titled: ‘The Role of National Governments in International Humanitarian Response’ (Harvey, 2010). The crux of the paper is the renewed recognition that states are instrumental in ensuring a humanitarian response that is both of high quality as well as accountable to the people it is intended to help. This latest paradigm shift is one of many that have occurred since, particularly, the 1994 Rwandan genocide and the ensuing joint donor evaluation thereof (Tong, 2004), but in general relates to the recognised need for greater quality and accountability within the humanitarian sector.

Various reasons for a rising importance of accountability and its relationship with quality are present in a number of publications (Foubert & Eskandar, 2009; Griekspoor & Sondorp, 2001; HAP, 2010; Hilhorst, 2002; Lee, 2004; Ramalingam & Mitchell, 2009; Slim, 2002; Deloffre, 2010). Alongside this growing literature on quality and accountability in the humanitarian sector, a number of articles have been published questioning the desirability of greater regulation and initiatives such as the Sphere project (Dufour et al., 2004; Ossewaarde et al., 2008; Terry, 2000; Tong, 2004).

The abovementioned literature is closely related to the debate on the role of the disaster affected government. The critique surrounding quality and accountability issues in the humanitarian sector is also relevant in relation to whether greater cooperation and regulation with and by national governments will negatively impact on upholding humanitarian principles. Although there is quite a substantial amount of literature on the need for greater quality and accountability within the humanitarian sector, the literature surrounding the debate is more limited when it comes to supporting government ownership of relief responses. As one Humanitarian Policy Group (HPG) report puts it: “Strangely absent from this body of work, however, is any analysis of the role of the affected state in responding to the needs of its own citizens in the face of disaster and conflict.” (Harvey, 2009: 1).

Nonetheless, there has been of late an increasing emphasis within academic, legal and policy circles on the role of national governments in managing disaster responses (Ghani et al., 2005; ISDIR, 2005; Fisher, 2007; IFRC, 2007a/b; ICRC, 2008; Amin & Goldstein, 2008). The most in-depth of these studies are those produced by the HPG over the last number of years, including both case studies and desk-based reviews covering countries such as: Pakistan (Cochrane, 2008), El Salvador (Fagen, 2008), Mozambique (Foley, 2007), India (Price & Bhatt, 2009), Indonesia (Willits-King, 2009) and Colombia (Wong, 2008). These case studies are to a degree discussed in an HPG report by Harvey (2009); however they are not explicitly compared as the paper focusses more on general trends concerning the relation between disaster affected governments and the humanitarian system.

The above mentioned studies mention ‘ad hoc’ recovery agencies as part of the overall government structure and response where they were created after disaster, such as the case with Indonesia. However, the fact that comparative case studies on the effect of the role of disaster affected governments on humanitarian responses are largely non-existent means that this is also the case for those ‘ad hoc’ agencies created in those instances where existing government structures were unforthcoming. Hence the uniqueness of the current thesis in a growing body of literature.

2.2. Studying Policy Transfer Using Conceptual/Analytical Frameworks

The 1996 policy transfer framework proposed by Dolowitz and Marsh is seen as the most influential framework to have guided academics studying the phenomenon of policy transfer for the past decade and a half (Benson & Jordan, 2011). Four years later, Dolowitz and Marsh (2000) revisited this framework in order to further develop it, but the core of the framework remained the same and is used as the basis for the integrated conceptual/analytical framework that guides this thesis. The Dolowitz and Marsh (2000) framework has contextualised the literature by posing and answering a number of questions, which form the independent variables used to determine whether or not policy transfer occurred and whether policy transfer was successful or not. These questions are studied to a greater extent in the following section titled Policy Transfer: a Conceptual/Analytical Framework.

The Dolowitz and Marsh (2000) framework is particularly useful in the context of this thesis as a means to organise research and identify the most relevant processes involved in policy transfer, thereby making it easier to assess the ‘value added’ aspect of the concept (Dolowitz & Marsh, 2000). Dolowitz and Marsh (2000: 8) illustrate this as follows: “why a lesson is drawn, where a lesson is drawn from and who is involved in the transferring process all affect whether transfer occurs and whether that transfer is successful.”[1] Thus, the theoretical framework presented in this section will “seek to explain what causes and impacts on the process of transfer as well as how processes of policy transfer lead to particular policy outcomes” (Evans, 2009: 254). This implies viewing policy transfer as both a dependent and an independent variable (Dolowitz & Marsh, 2000).

In relation to this paper, the framework allows us to examine and organise the processes involved in transferring policies governing the Aceh-Nias Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency (BRR), as well as identify whether the transfer was successful or not. The fact that the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC) is not exclusively modelled after the BRR, should not take away from the usefulness of the framework as a conceptual or analytical tool. The answers to crucial questions such as why lessons were drawn and who was involved will be similar, regardless of where the lessons were drawn from. In addition, it will remain relevant to examine why certain policies were transferred from the BRR and others not.

Within political science studies, policy transfer has been a particularly influential way of studying public policy (James & Lodge, 2003). In order to ground this framework in research related to humanitarian and development studies, this paper complements the Dolowitz and Marsh (2000) framework with similar frameworks related to how knowledge produced by various sources, particularly evaluations, leads to policy change. Two recent papers by Jones et al. (2009) and Weyrauch and Langou (2011), provide useful frameworks which complement that of Dolowitz and Marsh (2000).

The analytical/conceptual framework presented in Weyrauch and Langou’s (2011) paper, examines whether evaluations have an impact on policy and why the influence was achieved or not, focussing on the factors and forces that affect the policy transfer. Jones et al. (2009) examines six key areas of the ‘knowledge-development policy’ interface, which takes the Research and Policy in Development (RAPID) framework for assessing research-policy links as a starting point. The framework attempts to bring a systematic understanding to “what, when, why and how research feeds into development policies” (ODI, 2009). Integrating these two frameworks, which are grounded in development and humanitarian based research, with that of Dolowitz and Marsh (2000), should result in a hybrid framework which is both inclusive and relevant to the subject of this paper, without altering the original structure of the Dolowitz and Marsh (2000) framework, but giving it greater detail, particularly in relation to factors leading to either policy success or failure.

As mentioned previously, from a positivist standpoint such a framework would primarily serve as a tool for organising and conceptualising research. According to some, the complexity of policy formulation and transfer does not allow such a framework to identify which specific transfer processes lead to policy success or failure. These limits of Dolowitz and Marsh’s (2000) policy transfer framework are echoed by James and Lodge (2003) and Evans (2009). The former authors claim that the concept of policy transfer as utilised by Dolowitz and Marsh (2000) is too broad and difficult to separate from other forms of policy-making. As a result, conclusions on whether or not policy transfer processes have led to policy success or failure are difficult to make. These criticisms are to some extent echoed in the following sub-section on comparative politics and the use of case studies, which will further highlight some of the possibilities and limitations of this thesis.

3. Methodology

As Jaques Derrida once stated: “every discourse, even a poetic or oracular sentence, carries with it a system of rules for producing analogous things and thus an outline of methodology.” So too does this thesis, albeit not of the post-structuralist approach which Derrida favoured. The current section presents the methodology used in this thesis, which comprises the use of an integrated conceptual/analytical framework on policy transfer in structuring the main body of the thesis. The main body itself uses a comparative case study methodology, the strengths and weaknesses of which are additionally given in this section.

3.1. Comparative Method

In Lijphart’s (1971) paper on the comparative method, he argues that it is a particularly good qualitative method in lieu of the statistical method when only a few cases exist. This is (currently) the case for ‘ad hoc post-disaster governmental recovery agencies’. There are a number of criticisms that can be levied against small-N qualitative studies such as this one. Collier and Mahoney (1996) identify a number, of which the most common is ‘selection bias’ which can lead to the selection of extreme cases on the dependent variable (truncation), self-selection of individuals in the categories of an independent variable and interdependence of independent and dependent variables (‘Galton’s Problem’). In the case of analysing policy transfer as a dependent variable, the issue of selection bias, particularly ‘Galton’s Problem’ is discussed in the Policy Transfer: a Conceptual/Analytical Framework section, and process tracing is offered as a supporting technique.

Lijphart (1971) outlines a number of ways to reduce the pitfalls of small-N studies with many variables outlined by Collier and Mahoney. These include: increasing the number of cases, reducing the ‘property space’ of the analysis, focussing the analysis on comparable cases and focussing the comparative analysis on ‘key’ variables. In order to maintain detail and increase the ‘trustworthiness’ of this thesis, the focus is on two specific case studies and can therefore not adhere to Lijphart’s first suggestion. The reduction of ‘property space’ of the analysis is achieved by using the integrated policy framework based on that of Dolowitz and Marsh (2000) discussed previously, by using broad definitions. This implies that Dolowitz and Marsh (2000) have effectively placed variables with similar underlying characteristics (e.g. policy diffusion, policy convergence etc.) into a single variable (policy transfer). This is further discussed in the Policy Transfer: a Conceptual/Analytical Framework section. Lijphart’s third suggestion is achieved by selecting two cases with relatively comparable ‘third variables’ also referred to as ‘background variables’. By choosing dependent variables with different outcomes, also known as Mill’s ‘method of difference’, one can then identify to a greater extent the causal relationships that exist between ‘key’ independent variables and the dependent variable.

The dependent variable for this thesis is the achievement of ‘building back better’ which was achieved in Indonesia and not in Haiti. The further justification hereof is given in the section titled Analysis. Finally, the reduction of the number of independent variables is also achieved by the policy transfer framework as the next section will show. The integrated policy transfer framework suggested here focusses on five main variables, which according to Dolowitz and Marsh (2000) can help explain both the impact on the occurrence of transfer, as well as policy success or failure.

3.2. Reliability and Validity

The problems of validity and reliability have been touched upon already. Lijphart (1971) argues that the comparative method should only be used as laying the groundwork for quantitative analyses by identifying possible hypotheses. Scholars of a more qualitative persuasion, argue multiple case study comparisons (and even single cases) do not necessarily contain an inherent bias towards the researcher’s preconceived notions, nor should they merely be constrained to generating hypotheses (Flyvberg, 2008). This is the same conclusion of well-regarded academics in the field of comparative case studies such as Yin (2003). He argues that comparative case studies must either a) predict similar results or b) predict contrasting results for predictable reasons based on theory. Baxter and Jack (2008: 550) argue that “overall, the evidence created from this type of study is considered robust and reliable.” This thesis adheres to point b of Yin’s prerequisites, as it uses the comparative method and explains the causal relationship between dependent and independent variables through the use of theory, put forward by the three policy transfer frameworks, on which processes impact positively and negatively on policy success/failure. In the end it will depend on the reader’s stance on the positivism vs. post-positivism debate whether or not to interpret the findings of this thesis as material for the formulation of possible hypotheses for future research or as robust and reliable evidence. This thesis adheres to the position that the evidence produced should primarily be used to generate hypotheses for future research rather than taken as generalizable evidence without undermining the research’s utility.

This is largely due to the fact that validity, reliability and generalizability mean different things to qualitative and quantitative researchers. The issue of reliability is much debated within qualitative academic circles. Some, such as Stenbacka (2001), argue that the concept of reliability is intrinsically linked to issues of measurement and therefore not relevant to qualitative studies. Healy and Perry (2000) do maintain the importance of the principle, but argue that the concept should be replaced with qualitative paradigm terms such as dependability or credibility. A middle ground is taken by Lincoln and Guba (1985) who argue that a demonstration of validity is enough to establish reliability, something which is agreed upon by Patton (2001).

Validity is related to the concept of generalizability, as Galofshani (2003: 603) notes:

If the validity or trustworthiness can be maximized or tested then more “credible and defensible result” (Johnson, 1997: 283) may lead to generalizability which is one of the concepts suggested by Stenbacka (2001) as the structure for both doing and documenting high quality qualitative research. Therefore, the quality of a research is related to generalizability of the result and thereby to the testing and increasing the validity or trustworthiness of the research.

One such way of increasing the trustworthiness of qualitative research is through triangulation, not only of methods, but also of data sources (Galofshani, 2003).

The thesis uses two main methods of data collection. The primary method is the use of secondary sources, primarily reports and evaluations. The second method is through semi-structured interviews with key informants. With regards to the use of secondary source material, triangulation is applied in relation to the source of the material. In the case of the BRR for example, the data used has been published by the BRR itself, the Tsunami Evaluation Coalition (TEC), the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), etc. In the case of the IHRC, there is limited secondary data from the agency itself as well as reports and evaluations.

The gaps in the secondary data are filled by data obtained from guided interviews with key informants from the NGO sector (2), private sector (1), academic sector (1) and inter-governmental sector (1). The questions posed to the interviewees were to a large extent dependent on their area of expertise as well as their level of interaction with the IHRC. The content studied also adds to the trustworthiness of the overall thesis, as the research primarily examines relatively factual aspects of both recovery agencies such as O rganisational Structure and Mandate, Funding Mechanisms and A nti-Corruption Measures. The only exception being based to a larger extent on opinion is the final sub-section of the main body: A ctivity Prioritisation. This fact combined with the use of a rigorous methodology comprising the above mentioned conceptual/analytical framework and comparative method, makes the triangulation of other methods less pertinent to establishing the validity of the research.

3.3. Case Selection

According to Lijphart’s (1971) comparative method, it is not necessary to select cases randomly. Purposeful selection is possible, on the condition that the cases share as many third variables as possible. In addition, the validity of the research is heightened even more when the dependent variables have dissimilar outcomes. The selection of the cases of Indonesia after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and earthquakes and Haiti after the 2010 earthquake was done purposefully and in accordance to these preconditions. The similarities with regards to third variables are given in the section titled: ‘Third Variables: Disaster Impact and Political Context’. Such variables include the scale of the disaster, media attention, levels of corruption etc. Another reason for focussing on the IHRC is that the Haiti earthquake is a relatively recent event and that the IHRC appeared to have been modelled after the BRR (which this thesis confirms).

With regards to the disparity in dependent variable outcome between the two cases, further justification is given in the section titled: ‘Analysis: Policy Transfer as Two Variable Types. Taking the concept of ‘build back better’, the section gives a research specific definition and shows how there is a disparity between the cases of Indonesia and Haiti, with successful recovery having been achieved in the former, whilst this has not been the case for Haiti. The issue of mandate lengths and their respective effects on the ability of recovery agencies to be instrumental in building back better is also discussed in the above mentioned section.

A final justification for the case selection is that both were ‘mega-disasters’ and thus both contexts have a large amount of information available on them, particularly in the case of Indonesia.

3.4. Conclusion

Due to the limited amount of cases of ‘ad hoc post-disaster governmental recovery agencies’, this thesis employs a comparative method, guided by the use of the above mentioned policy transfer frameworks. The comparative method contains a number of disadvantages compared to quantitative methods, particularly in relation to issues of generalizability. The comparative method has the advantage however, that it offers a more in depth analysis as well as allowing for the generation of hypotheses to be used in future research. This same research can then also be used for comparison against the current thesis to establish whether a case can be made for causation or merely correlation (Sambanis, 2004).

Besides using theoretical frameworks as well as Lijphart’s (1971) comparative method - identifying cases with similar third variables but opposing dependent variables - the thesis further enhances validity through the triangulation of data sources. These methods combined should allow for a methodical, evidence based means of generating hypotheses on the subject of the role of policy transfer processes in relation to ‘ad hoc post-disaster governmental recovery agencies’ role in ‘building back better’.

4. Policy Transfer: a Conceptual/Analytical Framework

A comparison of the BRR and IHRC would be incomplete without first looking at some of the existing frameworks on policy transfer and the use of knowledge in informing policy frequently used in the fields of comparative politics and development studies (Dolowitz & Marsh, 2000). It is particularly relevant, as the mission and the mandate of the IHRC are “modelled after the successful approach after the tsunami in South Asia“(IHRC, 2011: 10), with specific mention of the BRR (IHRC, 2011; Bridges et al., 2010).[2] Furthermore, as a result of globalisation and the increasing severity of disasters (thus requiring the creation of ‘ad hoc’ agencies), direct policy transfer between governments is all the more probable for the foreseeable future. The theoretical frameworks presented in this section will “seek to explain what causes and impacts on the process of transfer as well as how processes of policy transfer lead to particular policy outcomes” (Evans, 2009: 254). This implies viewing policy transfer as both dependent (conceptual framework) and independent (analytical framework) variables (Dolowitz & Marsh, 2000).

This paper employs the terms policy transfer, lesson drawing and emulation interchangeably. Dolowitz and Marsh (1996: 344) argue that “policy transfer, emulation and lesson drawing all refer to a process in which knowledge about policies, administrative arrangements, institutions etc. in one time and/or place is used in the development of policies, administrative arrangements, institutions in another time and/or place.” In addition, policy transfer covers such “heterogeneous concepts, including policy diffusion, policy convergence, policy learning and lesson-drawing, under the umbrella heading of policy transfer.” (Evans, 2009: 254). As policy learning falls under policy transfer in the Dolowitz and Marsh (2000) framework, it allows for complementation by the Weyrauch & Langou (2011) and Jones et al. (2009) frameworks.

The following two sub-sections will examine policy transfer as both a dependent and independent variable. The key policy transfer processes identified can be used both conceptually by viewing policy transfer as the dependent variable as well as analytically by viewing policy transfer as an independent variable and thereby addressing specific objective four. Using the integrated conceptual/analytical framework presented in this thesis, one of Yin’s (2003) previously mentioned preconditions for case study research is fulfilled; predicting contrasting results for predictable reasons based on theory.

This section addresses specific objective one.

4.1. Policy Transfer as a Dependent Variable

Dolowitz and Marsh’s policy transfer framework focuses on five processes of transfer:

1. What is transferred? Dolowitz and Marsh (2000) make a categorisation ranging from the transfer of ideas and attitudes, to the transfer policy goals and policy content, including negative lessons. As opposed to the frameworks by Weyrauch and Langou (2011) and Jones et al. (2009), Dolowitz and Marsh (2000) make a greater distinction between different aspects of policy (e.g. content and instruments) as well as policy and programmes. In line with the scope of this thesis and the radical nature of the IHCR in terms of lesson drawing, it is more relevant to use the broader interpretation of policy used by Weyrauch and Langou (2011: 7):

Policy encompasses both decisions and processes, including the design, implementation and evaluation of the intervention. Policy is defined as a ‘purposive course of action followed by an actor or set of actors’ (Anderson, 1975, in Pollard & Court, 2005). This definition, of course, goes beyond documents or legislation, to include agenda setting, policy formulation, decision making, policy implementation and policy evaluation activities.

Weyrauch and Langou (2011), focussing specifically on impact evaluations, identify ‘what is transferred’ as the level of policy influence, whilst the closely related ‘degree of transfer’ is characterised as the dimension of policy influence.

2. Why transfer? (Political Context) This question concerns itself with why policy makers decide to engage in a particular degree of transfer. Dolowitz and Marsh (2000) conceptualise this transfer as lying on a continuum, with voluntary lesson drawing at one end and coercive transfer at the other end (see Figure 1).

illustration not visible in this excerpt

This continuum is based on the assumption that actors decide to draw lessons from other policies on the basis of rationality and dissatisfaction with the status quo. Transferring policy is a cheap solution compared to conducting one’s own research and devising one’s own policies. However, actors rarely act rational and are influenced by a number of externalities including incomplete information or, moving towards the coercive side of the spectrum, powerful outside actors that can influence (national) policy. Dolowitz and Marsh (2000) argue that most policy transfers will lie somewhere in the middle of the continuum. They further remind us that the degree of coerciveness will largely depend on the actors involved and their motivations. Finally, the opportunity for coercive policy transfer is heightened by crisis situations. Particularly this last point is also emphasised by Jones et al. (2009) and Weyrauch and Langou (2011) and will be elaborated on in the next sub-section.

What the Dolowitz and Marsh (2000) framework primarily has in common with those of Jones et al. (2009) and Weyrauch and Langou (2011) is that they argue policy transfer and policy making does not follow a rational linear model, but instead is better explained by political context or complexity models. Weyrauch & Langou (2011) note that political context models have not only become dominant in policy transfer theory but also the more general policy making theory as offered, for example, by Keeley and Scoones (1999). They concede that as a result of the policy making process not being completely rational, there are always instances of randomness involved. Models such as the RAPID Framework focus primarily on the interplay between the political context of a country - which Jones et al. (2009) identify as the most important factor determining

knowledge uptake - and external influences (see Figure 2).

SOURCE: (JONES ET AL., 2009: 3)

illustration not visible in this excerpt

This area “comprises a range of factors, including the nature of the political system (e.g. authoritarian or democratic) as well as the level of democratic competition; the strength of government leadership; the relative strength of interest groups; incen­tive structures within policymaking organisations; capacities of both policymakers and institutions; and the level of influence of external actors (such as donors and international institutions)” (Jones et al., 2009: 10). A crisis can thus cause a radical change in the political context and is therefore not only a window of opportunity for policy transfer, but also for influence of outside actors.

3. Who is involved? This point is narrowly related to the previous point. Dolowitz and Marsh (2009: 8) note that examining who is involved in the policy transfer process “raises important empirical questions regarding the degree to which transfer occurs and to what extent countries can choose to engage in the process.” All three frameworks recognise a wide variety of actors involved in the policy-making process. Weyrauch and Langou (2011) classify the policy community actors into two broad categories: sub-government and the attentive public. The sub-government group includes sections of the government that play a large role in the lesson-drawing and implementation process, pressure groups that have a strong influence on policy makers and relevant international organisations. To the attentive public group belong all the other relevant actors that have an abiding interest in the policy making process. Dolowitz and Marsh (2000) and Jones et al. (2009), go further by identifying specific actors which fall into these categories. Jones et al. (2009) identify the most relevant actors as: legislators, civil society organisations, think tanks, networks, donors and international agencies. Dolowitz and Marsh (1996; 2000) identify all of these and further sub-divide them into e.g. political parties, bureaucrats and consultants. For the scope of this paper it is more useful to focus on the categorisation employed by Jones et al. (2009) and placing those actors within the two broad categories identified by Weyrauch and Langou (2011).

4. Degree of Transfer. Weyrauch and Langou (2011) examine a range of policy influences which can be categorised into: expanding policy capacities (e.g. improving knowledge of actors), broadening policy horizons (e.g. introducing new concepts to frame debates) and affecting policy regimes (e.g. fundamental redesign of programmes or policies).

Dolowitz and Marsh (2000) use a similar typology, but employ four different gradients: inspiration, combination (of two or more different policies), emulation and at the extreme of the spectrum copying, involving direct and complete transfer.

5. From where are the lessons drawn? Dolowitz and Marsh (2000) argue that policy lessons can be drawn not only from the national level, but also from the sub-national and the international level. Weyrauch and Langou (2011) expand this to include particular sectors from which policy is transferred, which have varying operating dynamics. Jones et al. (2009: 16-18) elaborate on these different operating dynamics, particularly who is involved in the lesson drawing process, by looking at: “i) the level of technical exper­tise required to participate in policy debates ii) the relative influence of economic interests in shaping policy dialogues, iii) the level of contestation in the sector, and iv) the extent to which policy discourses are interna­tionalised.” They give the example of trade policy decisions often being taken behind closed doors, whilst other sectors such as education and natural resource management often enjoy higher participation rates by those directly affected by such policies. The following subsection will look at the impact of these on policy success or failure in greater detail.

Jones et al. (2009) and Weyrauch and Langou (2011) add a sixth dimension to the combined framework, by focussing on ‘knowledge translation’ processes, which have to do with making knowledge accessible to users. Although this is an important issue for anyone interested in policy transfer and lesson drawing, it goes beyond the scope of this thesis, but should be considered for future research.

4.2. Supporting Techniques for the Conceptual Framework

The combined policy transfer framework tells us that in the case of an emergency (political context) the degree of transfer is most likely to be emulation or copying (Dolowitz & Marsh, 2000). This implies that the creation of the IHRC is most likely a result of direct policy transfer from a different context rather than a coincidental similarity.

This last point is related to what Peter Starke (unpublished) refers to as the ‘twin challenges of interdependence’ in his yet to be published paper, titled ‘Sir Francis Galton’s Stepchildren: Qualitative Methods for the Study of Policy Diffusion’. In this paper, Starke argues that there are four techniques that qualitative researchers can employ, in order to on the one hand identify policy diffusion, and on the other hand and discriminate between mechanisms of diffusion on the other hand. The four techniques he mentions are cross-case analysis based on systematic case selection, pattern-matching, process tracing and counterfactual reasoning. This thesis primarily applies the cross-case analysis technique as described in the Methodology section. However, for the purposes of examining policy transfer as a dependent variable for the purposes of determining whether policy transfer actually took place, the process tracing technique, which involves a historical analysis at the actor level, can similarly be applied. The strongest positive corroboration of a theory can be supplied by what van Evera (1997) refers to as ‘smoking gun’ evidence. In essence, ‘smoking gun’ evidence implies that the researcher can pin point evidence linking policies from two different contexts together through e.g. admissions by high level officials, transnational encounters or even through the copying of errors in legislative texts. However, finding this type of evidence is usually difficult, as policymakers prefer to obscure the origin of transfer in order to gain credit for formulating policies.

4.3. Policy Transfer as an Independent Variable

Examining policy transfer as an independent variable gives an insight as to whether or not lesson drawing processes have contributed to policy success or policy failure. When policy makers implement certain policies, they aim to change the status quo to a more favourable outcome. It logically follows that the standard against which these outcomes are measured is derived from the context in which the original policy had favourable outcomes. As this thesis will show, the IHRC does this by exemplifying the successful case of the BRR.

The three frameworks utilised in this section offer instances in which the various policy processes can have positive or negative policy outcomes:

1. What is transferred? Dolowtiz and Marsh (2000) identify three general factors that significantly contribute to policy failure. The first is uninformed transfer and occurs when the borrowing institution has not acquired significant information about the policies borrowed, before transfer and implementation. The second is incomplete transfer and has to do with borrowing institutions being selective about transferring policies which are bound to fail out of context. The third is inappropriate transfer, which is related to transferring policies form social, political, economic, etc. environments which differ greatly from those that the borrowing institution operates in. One could place these first two ‘general’ factors under the heading of what is transferred, whilst inappropriate transfer is most related to the political context in which lessons are drawn.
2. Why transfer? (Political Context) The political context is seen by all three frameworks as an important factor in influencing policy success or failure. Jones et al. (2009) even argue that ODI have shown it to be the most important factor. From a research perspective, the political context is important, as it closely relates to the issue of third variable bias (Lijphart, 1971), as discussed in the research design section.

What is particularly significant for this paper is the assertion of all three frameworks that a crisis can act as a catalyst for policy transfer. Both Weyrauch and Langou (2011) and Jones et al. (2009) refer to this as a window of opportunity, in which there is a greater potential for lesson drawing. They argue this can be either negative, or positive; through breaking stalemates and changing underlying discourses and values. Besides the identification of so called ‘policy windows’ the authors discussed in this section, collectively draw three other broad conclusions about policy transfer as an independent variable.

According to Weyrauch and Langou (2011), it is important to bear in mind power theories within complex lesson-drawing processes, as knowledge used in these processes often mirrors and feeds existing power structures. According to Jones et al. (2009) this is particularly the case when economic interests or external actors are involved. It is therefore also important how power is distributed within the policy making community.

This brings us to the next conclusion drawn by Weyrauch and Langou (2011) and Jones et al. (2009), that lesson-drawing in order to influence policy is more likely in democratic and highly competitive systems. Additionally it is dependent on the extent of both the organisational capacity and leadership of governments as well as civil society. According to Weyrauch and Langou (2011: 23):

If the degree of societal organization and governmental organization is low, then the policymaking process will be very pluralistic, allowing the interventions of very diverse actors. On the other extreme, if both are well organized, then the policy community will be highly concentrated (or corporative), not allowing the participation of non-organized actors or interest groups. If the society is well organized, but the government is not, then the policymaking arena could be characterized by clientele pluralism, where societal interests can exert their influence in decision making processes. Lastly, if the degree of governmental organization is high, but that of societal organization is low, the state will direct policymaking.


[1] Dolowitz and Marsh (2000) view lesson-drawing as a form of policy transfer (Evans, 2009).

[2] This argument is further developed in the Analyis section.

Excerpt out of 98 pages


Policy Transfer, Disaster Affected Governments and Recovery
An Exploratory Study on the Role of Policy Transfer Processes in the Ability of ‘Ad Hoc Post-Disaster Governmental Recovery Agencies’ to be Instrumental in ‘Build Back Better’ Recovery Efforts
University College Dublin
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
1415 KB
Policy, Policy Transfer, Haiti, Indonesia, BRR, IHRC, Reconstruction, Conceptual Framework, Analytical Framework, ANTF, BAKORNAS, BAPPENAS, HRF, HRP, KPK, KPPN-K, MDF, OSEH, PAO, RANdatabase, SAK, SIM-C, TEC, Tsunami Evaluation Coalition, UNDP, OCHA, Humanitarian Cooperation, Government, National, Humanitarian, NGO, Earthquake, Tsunami, 2010, 2004, Recovery, Build Back Better, Dolowitz, Marsh, Policy Transfer: a Conceptual/Analytical Framework, Evans, Aceh, Nias, Case Study, Comparative Method, Lijphart, Recovery Agency, Weyrauch, Langou, Lesson Drawing, Lindquist, Organisation Capacity Approach, USA, Corruption, Organisational Structure, Mandate, Funding Mechanisms, Activity Prioritisation, Literature Review, Recommendations, Land Rights
Quote paper
Ralph Myers (Author), 2011, Policy Transfer, Disaster Affected Governments and Recovery, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/215494


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: Policy Transfer, Disaster Affected Governments and Recovery

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free