Global dimensions of policy

Beyond wide agreement that many areas of contemporary policy making are unintelligible if processes that transcend the boundaries of individual states are not taken into account, analysts often disagree on how various ‘global’ and ‘local’ factors interact to produce policies and policy outcomes. The disagreement stems in part from the use of different analytic lenses, and specifically from the choice between ‘statecentric’ and ‘polycentric’ lenses. This article examines the fundamental assumptions of these general perspectives with regard to the polity, politics and policy dimensions of global policy making, and surveys some of the research questions and findings that resulted from their use. It concludes that scholars and policy makers should treat the two analytical lenses as complementary, as each of them stimulates the analyst to ask questions and look for entities and causal connections that the other lens may miss.

Statecentric’ and ‘polycentric’ lenses provide complementary and valuable perspectives on the global dimensions of policy making.
Systematic data collection and analysis of non-state mechanisms of policy making should be encouraged and supported.
Analysts and policy makers need to be aware of the sometimes implicit assumptions underlying global policy studies.