Policy transfer: OECD impact on policy making in Iceland


  • Pétur Berg Matthíasson




Policy transfer, OECD, Policy Making, Voluntary/Coercive, PIR, Committees.


International organizations such as the OECD, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank are known for spreading ideas, values and policies around the world. In the 90s academic interest in policy transfer increased significantly and researchers tried to create a framework for the approach, explaining why a policy transfer is taking place, under what circumstances, at what stage, etc. Policy transfer as a method has been studied in great detail in recent years by a number of scholars, although not very much in Iceland. Despite great interest in the method, the approach has been criticized for being too descriptive and theoretically weak. Haven’t officials and politicians copied ideas from each other for centuries? This year, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) will be 60 years old. It is therefore timely to study the impact OECD has had on Icelandic public administration after 60 years of partnership. The objective of this analysis is to combine a discussion on OECD’s activities and assess its impact on Icelandic public policy making. The first part of the article discusses the predecessor of the OECD, the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC), and how it laid the foundations for how the OECD operates today. Furthermore, the current role and structure of the OECD is discussed as well as the tools it has at its disposal to impact policy making in member states. In the second part, the policy transfer method is examined in detail. The definition of the term is discussed, while an attempt is made to identify who is normally involved in policy transfer etc.? Is policy transfer voluntary or coercive? An attempt is made to frame the main variants of policy transfer and discuss ways to identify whether a policy transfer has occurred. Finally, Iceland’s participation in OECD work is discussed and an attempt is made to analyse data from the OECD’s Programme of Implementation Reports (PIR) to assess the extent to which the Icelandic government is utilizing the organization outputs for shaping policy making.

Author Biography

Pétur Berg Matthíasson

Specialist in political science and public administration in the Prime Ministers Office, Iceland.



How to Cite

Matthíasson, P. B. (2021). Policy transfer: OECD impact on policy making in Iceland. Icelandic Review of Politics & Administration, 17(1), 23–48. https://doi.org/10.13177/irpa.a.2021.17.1.2



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