What Factors Can Public Health Actors Consider to Facilitate the Borrowing of a Public Policy?

Given the interconnectedness of jurisdictions around the world, public policies adopted to solve a problem in one jurisdiction often inspire in another the development of policies intended to solve the same problem. When public health actors propose policy options for addressing public health problems, they may include in their proposals policies that have proven effective in other jurisdictions.

Thus, the aim of this report is to inform public health actors about the factors that facilitate the borrowing of public policies; that is, the adoption of policies from elsewhere into their own jurisdiction. Based on a review of the literature, we identified 20 factors that facilitate policy borrowing, and classified them into four categories:

  • Catalysts;
  • Externalizing potential of the policy;
  • Decision making;
  • Internalizing potential of the policy.

Based on these four categories of factors, we are proposing a four-pronged approach that public health actors can use to mobilize these factors when they consider proposing one or more external policies:

  • Determine whether their jurisdiction presents an opportune situation which can serve as a springboard for the proposed policy;
  • Determine whether the proposed policy has qualities that would justify its being borrowed;
  • Determine whether the proposed policy resonates politically with policy makers in their jurisdiction;
  • Determine whether the context lends itself to the successful implementation of the proposed policy.

This approach will enable public health actors to assess the relevance of proposing the borrowing of the external policies being considered, identify the factors that can be mobilized in the documents presenting these policy options, and develop their strategy for sharing knowledge with policy makers (i.e., when, how and with which partners these policy options would be presented).

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