This article explores current thinking about policy learning and transfer, using recent work on the 'Americanisation' of UK active labour market policies as a focus of discussion. While it is clear that the UK has learned from the US in certain respects, academic debates about the US-UK policy relationship are marked by accounts of learning and transfer that depend on a highly rational interpretation of these processes. The article reviews current debates in the policy transfer literature and applies a critical view of policy learning and transfer to key accounts of labour market activation policies before moving on to consider how useful the concept of policy transfer really is in an increasingly complex, plural and 'de-institutionalising' world.
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