Mobility turn in policy transfer research: from state-centric to comparative urban approach


(1.School of Government, Sun Yat-sen University)

【Abstract】In the age of globalization, frequent inter-urban policy transfer profoundly transforms the urban governance by connecting local policy regimes to the global urban policy community. Cities have become the most active participants in the global governance system, absorbing and contributing to different models of best practices. However, the traditional policy transfer research is marked by a state-centric approach, which lacks a comparative urban framework to conceptualize the precise process. In light of this deficiency, scholars coined a new term “policy mobility” to account for the inter-urban policy transfer from a multidisciplinary perspective. Policy mobility framework also directs the attention to the global-relational and socio-spatial construction along the process of policy transfer. This paper reviews the origin, theoretical basis and practical significance of the mobility turn. It also proposes future research projects, with the hope to contribute to comparative urban study and the multidisciplinary conversation in policy study in China.

【Keywords】 policy transfer; mobility; urban governance; globalization;


【Funds】 Phased Achievements of Major Project of Ministry of Education Base (16JJD630010)

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This Article


CN: 11-1100/C

Vol 34, No. 03, Pages 219-241+246

May 2019


Article Outline


  • 1 Limitations of traditional policy transfer research
  • 2 Post-transfer era: from policy transfer to urban policy mobility
  • 3 Mobility turn: understanding new dimensions of urban policy making and innovation
  • 4 Some thoughts on research issues of policy mobility
  • References