Phase 2: Local Adaptation and Experimentation

The formation of a local coalition constitutes the expansion of a transnational governance network to a particular locality and marks the beginning of phase 2. These coalitions are transnational in that domestic and foreign actors coordinate “shared strategies or sets of tactics to publicly influence social change” (Khagram et al. 2002, 7). However, I refer to these coalitions throughout the book as “local coalitions” to emphasize their local focus and local members, and to distinguish them from the national-level coalitions formed during phase 1.

Local Brokers

In this phase, contestation over global ideas occurs in local arenas. The challenge is explaining why some attempts to apply global principles, policies, and practices break down while others lead to adaptation and experimentation with innovative institutional arrangements. As in phase 1, brokers are needed to navigate domestic arenas, mobilize action, and get things done. However, brokers in local arenas look quite different from national brokers. These are not highly educated, urban globetrotters like Tarrow’s “rooted cosmopolitans” or Steinberg’s “bilateral activists.” They are normal people living in rural communities and small towns—smallholder farmers, neighborhood association leaders, community organizers, municipal bureaucrats, and others. For reasons discussed later, these grassroots actors take the lead in transnational governance networks as efforts turn to implementing global ideas locally. This matters because these grassroots advocates rarely follow the standard, international script.

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