Resolving impasses in policy translation

Shall we adjust the idea or the process?

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Abstract

This study explains how contrasting perspectives on resolving impasses in policymaking exist among all relevant actors in a case of transferring Dutch flood management policy to Jakarta, Indonesia. It does so by introducing Q methodology as a novel method in policy transfer and policy mobility studies. International policy transfer requires a continuous, iterative process of policy translation where stagnation may occur following disruptions on the policy, polity or political dimension. This paper assumes that actors go through a process in which they assign meaning to transfer objects. Using Q methodology, two contrasting perspectives are identified in the case of transferring the ‘Dutch Delta Approach’ to Jakarta, Indonesia. One perspective emphasises the need for direct implementation, while the other advocates further modification of ideas. These contrasting perspectives cut through existing sender-receiver categorizations and prevent strategic alignment needed for a breakthrough. Furthermore, they suggest a lack of political leadership from Indonesia and potential conflict of interests of the Dutch government as policy sender as other causes for prolonged stagnation. Finally, I conclude that the outsourcing of strategy making and planning to consultants delimits the space for translation.