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Policy Convergence

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PPGPortal > Home > Concept Dictionary > P, Q > Policy Convergence

Policy Convergence 

The development of similar or even identical policies across countries over time.

(Knill 2005, 764)


Studies of policy convergence tend to focus on changes in policy similarity over time. Knill defines policy convergence as follows: “Any increase in the similarity between one or more characteristics of a certain policy (e.g. policy objectives, policy instruments, policy settings) across a given set of political jurisdictions (supranational institutions, states, regions, local authorities) over a given period of time. Policy convergence thus describes the end result of a process of policy change over time towards some common point, regardless of the causal processes.” (Knill, 768) Thus, policy transfer and diffusion describe processes that could, under some circumstances, result in policy convergence. Contributing factors to policy convergence include the role and influence of international organizations, regulatory competition between states, or shared interests among states that lead to national policy adjustments. As such, policy convergence can either be driven by outside forces, or by similar, isolated domestic events in different countries that push them to adopt converging policies. While Knill points out that evidence remains mixed about whether globalization has in fact been producing greater policy convergence – rather than divergence – he suggests that there is a “partially inconsistent theoretical” basis for the policy convergence literature. (Knill, 765)


Knill, Christopher. 2005. “Introduction: Cross-National Policy Convergence: Concepts, Approaches and Explanatory Factors.” Journal of European Public Policy 12 (5): 764-774.


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School of Public Policy and Governance