"Das Ausland als Argument" twice revisited


The chapter acknowledges Philipp Gonon’s important contribution to policy borrowing research, notably, his introduction of a transnational dimension for the study of national educational reforms. In particular, the chapter elaborates on the practice of lesson-drawing from other countries – also known as “Das Ausland als Argument” –and presents two discursive shifts in policy borrowing research: (i) the move from normative to analytical policy borrowing research and (ii) the focus on the relation between the local and the global. The first development brings to light the political dimension of cross-national references, that is, the politics of “das Ausland als Argument”, whereas the second discursive shifts draws attention to when, how, and why politicians and their advisors make references to “best practices” or broadly defined international standards to generate a quasi-external reform pressure that helps create political coalitions for their own reform initiatives. These two developments of the last few years – the legitimacy turn and the globalization turn – are discussed from the perspective of sociological systems theory. A key feature of systems-theoretical scholars is their attention to reception and translation processes in transnational policy borrowing.