The Transferability of Policy Instruments: How New Environmental Policy Instruments Strike Roots in Russia and Latvia

By Appel, Hilary | Canadian Slavonic Papers, March-June 2008 | Go to article overview

The Transferability of Policy Instruments: How New Environmental Policy Instruments Strike Roots in Russia and Latvia


Appel, Hilary, Canadian Slavonic Papers


Jorn Holm-Hansen. The Transferability of Policy Instruments: How New Environmental Policy Instruments Strike Roots in Russia and Latvia. Oslo: NIBRrapport; 2005. 249 pp. Tables.

Jorn Holm-Hansen's book contributes to a growing literature on policy diffusion and the transfer of institutions from West to East. This book examines the "transposition" of new environmental policy instruments (NEPIs) from the West to two mid-size, single-enterprise towns in Russia and Latvia. His goal is to elucidate why institutions take root and function effectively in some contexts and not others. This book focuses on the environment into which, and from which, policy institutions are imported and exported. It emphasizes the contextual conditions and asks whether policy instruments mesh with the surrounding institutional, cultural, moral and political environment. Although this book speaks most directly to the debates on policy diffusion and institutionalism, it also contributes to debates in the literature on ecological modernization and post-Communist transition. The literature review and bibliography cover an impressively broad range of theoretical and empirical work in a handful of languages.

Holm-Hansen identifies three assumptions on the success of borrowed policy instruments. First, there must be a market-like environment in which differentiated actors, like polluters, local governments, and national governments, make cost-benefit calculations. second, the relevant actors must relate in a non-hierarchical way, such that polluters enter into partnerships with environmental authorities. Third, there must be shared knowledge and a common understanding of the relevant issues. In examining his case studies, Holm-Hansen hypothesizes that actors in his two case studies are not well differentiated, which make market-like calculations difficult. Moreover, he hypothesizes that the existing non-hierarchical patterns among actors undermine the effectiveness of voluntary agreements (for example, in the treatment of pollutants). Finally, he hypothesizes that a lack of widely agreed upon technical knowledge hampers new policy instruments.

The author contrasts the Russian case (Koriazhma) which is "borrower driven" with the Latvian case (Preili) in which the transfer of environmental policy instruments is "lender-driven," that is pushed by the European Union on new member states. Additionally, in the Latvian case, an entire package of environmental policy reforms needed to be adopted in full, given that this was part of a larger process of EU assimilation. In the Russian case, local actors could pick and choose which reforms to import.

For each case, Holm-Hansen examines the main environmental actors: state environmental authorities, local governments, and polluting enterprises and studies the efficacy of environmental economic instruments, voluntary agreements and informational devices. …

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