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The National Origins of Policy Ideas

The National Origins of Policy Ideas: Knowledge Regimes in the United States, France, Germany, and Denmark

John L. Campbell
Ove K. Pedersen
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 400
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  • Book Info
    The National Origins of Policy Ideas
    Book Description:

    In politics, ideas matter. They provide the foundation for economic policymaking, which in turn shapes what is possible in domestic and international politics. Yet until now, little attention has been paid to how these ideas are produced and disseminated, and how this process varies between countries.The National Origins of Policy Ideasprovides the first comparative analysis of how "knowledge regimes"-communities of policy research organizations like think tanks, political party foundations, ad hoc commissions, and state research offices, and the institutions that govern them-generate ideas and communicate them to policymakers.

    John Campbell and Ove Pedersen examine how knowledge regimes are organized, operate, and have changed over the last thirty years in the United States, France, Germany, and Denmark. They show how there are persistent national differences in how policy ideas are produced. Some countries do so in contentious, politically partisan ways, while others are cooperative and consensus oriented. They find that while knowledge regimes have adopted some common practices since the 1970s, tendencies toward convergence have been limited and outcomes have been heavily shaped by national contexts.

    Drawing on extensive interviews with top officials at leading policy research organizations, this book demonstrates why knowledge regimes are as important to capitalism as the state and the firm, and sheds new light on debates about the effects of globalization, the rise of neoliberalism, and the orientation of comparative political economy in political science and sociology.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5036-5
    Subjects: Political Science, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. List of Acronyms
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xvii-xx)
    John L. Campbell and Ove K. Pedersen
  6. CHAPTER 1 Knowledge Regimes and the National Origins of Policy Ideas
    (pp. 1-36)

    Two conservative congressional staff members in Washington, D.C., Ed Feulner and Paul Weyrich, were frustrated in 1971 by the lack of timely policy-relevant research on Capitol Hill. Their frustration peaked when an impressive and potentially influential briefing paper about the supersonic transport prepared by a prominent conservative think tank arrived a dayafterCongress voted on the issue—too late to influence the vote. Frustration led to action. In 1973, with the help of wealthy benefactors like the beer tycoon Joseph Coors, they established the Heritage Foundation, an aggressive policy research organization dedicated to quickly producing and disseminating conservative policy...


    • CHAPTER 2 The Paradox of Partisanship in the United States
      (pp. 39-83)

      The U.S. knowledge regime is often described as a highly competitive marketplace of ideas.¹ Advocates of various policy ideas battle each other in order to influence the thinking of national policymakers. Indeed, several people in Washington used precisely this metaphor in describing the situation to us in April 2008. So we were surprised to learn that there was recently also a significant amount of cooperation among research organizations in Washington. And we were especially amazed when people told us that this was occurring not only among organizations on one side or the other of the political spectrum but also among...

    • CHAPTER 3 The Decline of Dirigisme in France
      (pp. 84-128)

      The American and French knowledge regimes could not be more different. A competitive marketplace of ideas has long operated in the United States but has emerged only recently in France. But the most striking difference is that while there have long been an ample number of private as well as state policy research organizations in the United States, state research organizations have dominated France’s knowledge regime and private ones have been very scarce. We expected to find this because France is a country wheredirigisme—central state-led economic development—prevailed for several decades after the Second World War.¹ It surprised...

    • CHAPTER 4 Coordination and Compromise in Germany
      (pp. 129-171)

      In contrast to the U.S. knowledge regime with its competitive marketplace of ideas and the French knowledge regime with its statist tradition, the chief characteristic of the German knowledge regime is coordination among its policy research organizations. We expected as much given Germany’s corporatist heritage. After all, in modern corporatist systems the state confers formal status and resources on well-organized interest groups, such as unions and employer associations, grants them formal admission to the policymaking process, and off-loads formal responsibility to them for coordinating the behavior of their members and each other in order to facilitate compromise and advise policymakers.¹...

    • CHAPTER 5 The Nature of Negotiation in Denmark
      (pp. 172-214)

      Denmark’s knowledge regime is a blend of key elements found in the German and French cases. It resembles Germany’s insofar as both have been heavily influenced by tripartite corporatist traditions.¹ But there are important differences too. As we expected, because Denmark is a small country there are far fewer policy research organizations than in Germany. Moreover, because the Danish state is not federalist its knowledge regime is more centralized than Germany’s. Virtually all the important policy research organizations are located in Copenhagen. Finally, Danish policy research organizations are oriented toward compromise and consensus more than they are in Germany. This...

    • Reprise: Initial Reflections on the National Cases
      (pp. 215-230)

      Let us pause and consider the implications of what we have presented in part I. We begin by reviewing our main findings so far about the national origins of policy ideas. Then we examine their implications for comparative political economy and for arguments about the independence of intellectual enterprises like policy analysis and advising. We conclude with a brief discussion of typologies of policy research organizations.

      In part I we showed that each of our four knowledge regimes had a unique and nationally specific organizational and institutional topography. Then we argued that the end of the Golden Age of postwar...


    • [PART II Introduction]
      (pp. 231-232)

      So far we have explored through detailed case studies of the United States, France, Germany, and Denmark the national character of four knowledge regimes—how they are organized, operate, and have changed since the Golden Age of postwar capitalism. The emphasis has been on their persistent and nationally specific differences. Part II shifts gears. It asks two questions. One is about whether our four knowledge regimes have become more similar to each other in important ways since the 1970s. That is, have the national origins of policy ideas started to disappear? The other is about what sort of influence knowledge...

    • CHAPTER 6 Limits of Convergence
      (pp. 233-275)

      The heart and soul of comparative political economy has long been the analysis of persistent cross-national differences. But another body of research, often associated with organizational and economic sociology, suggests something quite different. As we explained in chapter 1, these scholars argue that when organizations in a field face uncertainty they gradually change in ways that lead to convergence in their structures and practices. This is a well-known and widely accepted view in sociology, so the puzzle for us is why there was not more convergence within and across our four knowledge regimes. We address that question in this chapter....

    • CHAPTER 7 Questions of Influence
      (pp. 276-322)

      What influence do knowledge regimes have? This wasnotthe central question motivating this book because many others have already tried to determine how ideas affect policymaking. Instead, we wanted to understand how the analysis, recommendations, and other ideas upon which policymakers relied were produced and disseminated to them in the first place. But it is difficult to avoid the question of influence, and indeed we have been asked about it many times. So we tackle it in this chapter although very cautiously for reasons that will soon become clear.

      The issue of influence actually involves two more specific questions....


    • CHAPTER 8 Summing Up and Normative Implications
      (pp. 325-331)

      In writing this book we have explored territory that has been largely uncharted by comparative political economists, sociologists, and globalization theorists. We have examined the organizational and institutional machinery—knowledge regimes—with which policy analysis, recommendations, and other ideas are produced and disseminated to policymakers. And we have shown how this happened in different ways in the United States, France, Germany, and Denmark as policymakers and others tried to make sense of and cope with their country’s political-economic problems after the Golden Age of postwar capitalism as globalization was on the rise. In short, our argument has been about the...

  10. Postscript: An Agenda for Future Research
    (pp. 332-342)

    Before we wrote this book little research had been done on knowledge regimes. So we view our effort here as only a beginning. And we hope that it will open up new lines of research. With that in mind we offer a series of questions and testable propositions that other researchers might want to consider in the future. These are by no means exhaustive.

    To begin with, we have examined only a small handful of countries in arguing that the national character of knowledge regimes is shaped by the policymaking and production regimes with which they are associated. Would the...

  11. Appendix: Research Design and Methods
    (pp. 343-356)
  12. References
    (pp. 357-374)
  13. Index
    (pp. 375-401)