Private Consultants and Policy Advisory Organizations


Diane Stone (University of Canberra)

Leslie A. Pal (Carleton University)

Osmany Porto de Oliveira (Unifesp)


The literature on policy transfers has focused on learning among governmental actors, especially states. However, in the contemporary era, actors such as consultancies, international organizations, and specialized private agencies have acquired progressively a more relevant role in policy design and delivery, knowledge production, and transnational transfers. The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation sponsored projects on food security across Southern Countries. Ayala Consulting Group has been assisting to different governments to design Conditional Cash Transfer Programs. Mckinsey is developing and advocating for housing models for African cities. The Rio+ Center in Brazil is fostering sustainable development goals across the world, via the diffusion of best practices.

In many instances, these organisational actors partner with counterparts to amplify messages, best-practices, benchmarks and international standards. Partnering with international organisations can provide official patronage and indirectly, legitimacy for the policy instruments or models being diffused. The effect is a convergence among models, which are not necessarily adapted to contexts where they are implemented. Taking into account the changes in the empirical landscape of policy transfer and the proliferation of new actors both private and intergovernmental, our aim is to understand their role, engagement, interests, interactions and operational styles. In this panel we address the following questions:

  • What is the role of internationally active non-governmental actors (management consultancies, philanthropic foundations, ‘policy labs’ in universities, as well as think tanks) in contemporary policy transfer?
  • What kinds of knowledge is being produced by these actors, and for whom?
  • How do private and international public actors interact along transfer processes?
  • What interests do private actors carry and what motivates them to engage in transfer?
  • How are these actors organized internally, and what is their operational style for diffusing models and messages?

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