The Role of “Social Technocrats” in Social Policy Transfer in Latin America

Mrs. Cecilia Osorio Gonnet

The objective of this paper is to address the role of Chilean technocracy as an actor that contributes to the transfer of the Chilean Conditional Cash Transfer program (CCTs) Chile Solidario (CHS) to other countries in the region, particularly Guatemala, Paraguay and Colombia. In these three cases, some components from CHS were adopted in their CCT programs: Familia Progresa, Tekoporá and Familias en Acción, respectively.

Chilean social technocrats influenced Latin-American CCTs due to their knowledge and experience from CHS, beside avenues of collaboration, cooperation and advocacy. They acted by two channels: officials - such as international cooperation – and unofficial – such as the networks, conferences, and expert trips and databases linked to internationals organizations-. Those activities facilitated the exchange of information, experiences, good practices among government experts, academics and policymakers.

The paper contributes to the discussion about emerging actors in the south-south transfer, presenting the label of “social technocrats” to identify them. These actors would have the peculiarity of being public officials specialized in the field of social policies with high levels of experience and validated among their peers. It is possible to observe them in the social arena in the last decade and their emergence is probably linked to the strengthening of Social Development Ministries in the region and the consolidation of Latin-American social programs.

The analysis of the role and incidence of “social technocrats” in the process of transfer is carried out through process tracing based on first and secondary evidence. Besides, semi-structured interviews with key process actors were held in the 4 countries during the year 2017-2019.