CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

The study of the transnational transfer of practices and institutions generally looks at the intermediary and final stages of this process, with much less attention devoted to its initial steps. In contrast, this paper theorizes the early part of the trajectory of transfer, conceptualized as the process through which local ideas and practices are turned into a “standard model”, what we call the process of standardization. Drawing upon public policy and social movement literatures, we identify three potentially robust mechanisms as central to the process of standardization - certification, de-contextualization, and framing - and apply our framework to two cases: the transnational spread of Truth and Reconciliation Commissions (TRCs) and the increasing reliance on conditional cash transfers (CCTs) as social policy instruments. We find that the key actors in shaping the content of these standards were neither the innovators nor the early adopters but intermediary entrepreneurs located at the intersection of a complex mix of state and non-state networks.


  • transnational transfer
  • standardization
  • mechanisms
  • truth and reconciliation commissions
  • conditional cash transfers
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