From London to Beijing: Training and Development as an Agent of Policy Learning in Public Management

Richard Common

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The education and training of international public managers is a powerful mechanism for policy learning and transfer. In a way similar to the globalization of MBA studies, which has contributed to the international diffusion of Western derived management concepts, a number of countries are investing in overseas training programs for their public servants to bring back international "know how" and good practice. Although this practice has been coterminous with the expansion of relatively easier and affordable international travel, policy learning activity in the area of administrative reform appears to have intensified.Though largely undocumented, the UK has witnessed a sharp increase in the number of cohorts of Chinese civil servants arriving to enroll in short courses. Many of these courses are conducted outside the University system and are arranged and hosted by independent organizations. Despite this being a growth industry, the impacts are unclear and raise a number of questions, such as, what is being learned about UK public administration and how much of it is being transferred back to China? What is it about UK public administration that has particular appeal to China? Although training and development may have a multiple agenda, the assumption is that its primary purpose is to facilitate knowledge transfer. This article sets out to understand whether this recent trend constitutes an agent of international policy transfer between Britain and China. To do this, the article analyses the nature of policy learning from the UK within a cohort of senior Chinese public servants. © 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)677-683
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Public Administration
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012


  • China
  • management development
  • policy learning
  • policy transfer


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