How and Why Politicians Learn from Policies from Abroad

Name of applicant

Roman Senninger


Associate Professor


Aarhus University


DKK 4,503,494



Type of grant

Semper Ardens: Accelerate


Important societal challenges such as inflation, climate change, and pandemics do not make a stop at national borders. Because different countries face similar problems, policy solutions are often found abraod. During the COVID-19 pandemic many governments followed the lead of others and based their decisions about lockdowns and school closures on what other countries had already done. But how and why do politicians select and use policies from abroad? The POLABROAD project examines whether politicians mindlessly copy policy solutions from other countries or select policies from abroad with great care.


Implementing ineffective policies from abroad carries heavy social and economic costs, while overlooking possible successful policies from abroad can even cost lives. To facilitate quick and efficient problem-solving across national borders, we need to know how and why politicians respond to policies from abroad. Existing research studies international policy diffusion at highly aggregated levels (e.g., countries). Thus, academic and public debates lack a coherent understanding of the central actors who decide on the implementation of policies from abroad. POLABROAD provides new knowledge about political decision-making in an era marked by important transnational challenges and a race for appropriate policy solutions.


Via three work packages (WP) this project breaks new ground and provides novel conceptual and empirical answers to the research question. WP 1 theorises the mechanisms underlying politicians' selection and use of policies from other countries to understand how they reconcile competing considerations when learning from abroad. WP 2 causally examines the selection and use of policies from abroad through field experiments that capture actual behavior and add value to politicians' role as representatives. WP 3 explores variation in the use of policies from abroad through computational text analysis of parliamentary speeches and press releases across time and space.

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