restricted access 9. International-Domestic Linkages and Policy Convergence
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9 International-Domestic Linkages and Policy Convergence Per-Olof Busch, Aarti Gupta, and Robert Falkner Links between international and domestic policy choices are now a mainstay of global environmental governance research. A common analytical concern is the question of whether multilevel policy linkages fuel convergence of national policies. Most debates about convergence have taken place within a broader literature on globalization and its effects on domestic policies. In this chapter, we draw on this broader literature to consider whether and how linkages between international and domestic levels result in convergence or divergence of domestic policies across different countries. Drawing on two policy areas—governance of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in developing countries and renewable electricity policies in the European Union—we analyze dynamics of environmental policy convergence across multiple jurisdictions, thereby focusing on linkages between policy decisions at the international and domestic levels. Debates about such multilevel policy linkages have to date been predominantly concerned with whether convergence is occurring and in what direction. Thus, much theoretical and empirical attention has focused on documenting convergence toward more stringent (“race to the top”) or less stringent (“race to the bottom”) levels of domestic regulation . We argue here that this prevailing dichotomy in much of the literature is overly simplistic and fails to capture the messiness of international -domestic linkages. Through analysis of our cases, we highlight how and why convergence pressures from globalization are being counteracted in specific instances, resulting in persistent policy diversity. This holds even when strong economic and political pressures exist for convergence at the domestic level (as in the GMO case) and when a relatively advanced level of regulatory convergence may have already been achieved (as in the renewable energy case). The analysis proceeds in three steps. In the next section, we review recent literature on global environmental governance, globalization, and 200 Per-Olof Busch, Aarti Gupta, and Robert Falkner comparative environmental politics that engages with multilevel policy linkages and the prospects for convergence versus divergence. The subsequent sections explore and explain convergence versus divergence in the two areas of global environmental governance analyzed here: GMO governance and renewable energy. In concluding, we draw out broader implications of our analysis for the study of policy linkages in multilevel environmental governance and identify elements of a future research agenda. Conceptualization The concept of convergence is apt to provoke confusion among researchers because of differences in its empirical and normative use (Holzinger, Jörgens, and Knill 2008). It is important, therefore, to clarify at the outset how we use it in this chapter. Since the early 1980s, convergence has been seen as “the tendency of societies to grow more alike, to develop similarities in structures, processes, and performances” (Kerr 1983, 3; see also Drezner 2001, 53). Thus, we understand convergence as a process (Bennett 1991). Our focus here is on convergence in regulatory policies, or simply, regulatory convergence. By this, we mean the growing similarity of institutional frameworks and regulatory approaches in a substantive policy area. Much of the literature on the convergence effects of globalization on national policies has focused on whether globalization fuels cultural, social, political, or economic homogeneity (for an excellent and comprehensive overview, see Guillén 2001). In particular, a key concern is whether economic globalization, that is, horizontal economic interlinkages between countries relating to trade, investment, and financial flows, are making national policies more similar across the world. Convergence effects of economic globalization have been studied in different geographical settings and for diverse issue areas. Scholars have, for example, examined domestic responses to economic globalization in the field of macroeconomic policies (e.g., Keohane and Milner 1996), environmental policies (e.g., Holzinger, Knill, and Arts 2008), regulatory policies (e.g., Vogel and Kagan 2004), and the broader development of political-economic institutions in capitalist systems (e.g., Hall and Soskice 2001). Most empirical studies have been conducted on convergence effects in the developed world, particularly in a European or transatlantic setting, with only a few studies exploring convergence in developing countries (e.g., Jordana and Levi-Faur 2005; Simmons and Elkins 2004; International-Domestic Linkages 201 Biersteker 1992; for overviews see Heichel, Pape, and Sommerer 2005; Drezner 2001). Newer convergence studies have sought to extend this predominantly economic perspective to include analysis of interaction between political globalization and domestic policies as well. Their main analytical focus is multilevel or vertical policy linkages between international and domestic policy making and the effects of such vertical linkages on policy convergence across different jurisdictions. More precisely, they...


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Subject Headings

  • Environmental policy -- International cooperation.
  • Environmental responsiblity -- International cooperaiton.
  • Global environmental changes.
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