Decisions in crisis: Heuristics in policy transfer under uncertainty


  • Monica Naime Centro de Investigacion y Docencia Economicas


This paper looks into decision-making processes in the course of a crisis. In particular, it looks into how governments decide and use heuristics during crisis management, in order to transfer policies, as an attempt to reinforce or regain their legitimacy in unsettled times. It aims to understand how two institutional features, one intrinsic–problem uncertainty– and one extrinsic –ambiguity at the international level– affect decision-making. It develops a typology of policy transfer under these two dimensions.

It examines the case of disappearances in Mexico, where Congress issued national legislation in a crisis generated after the disappearance of 43 students in 2014. The Law on Disappeared was a result of an explicit attempt to transfer international guidelines.

Results show that, as long as the degree of uncertainty surrounding the problem is low, heuristics change according the degree of ambiguity at the international level: when they are clear, tallying occurs, while when they are ambiguous, one-reason heuristics would favor binding instrument.

Furthermore, findings also point towards a nuanced understanding on the effect of a high degree of problem uncertainty on policy transfer. The research is relevant for understanding how, in crisis, decisions adapt based on context.

Author Biography

Monica Naime, Centro de Investigacion y Docencia Economicas

PhD Candidate, Centro de Investigacion y Docencia Economicas and visiting PhD fellow at the Depertament of Administration and Organization Theory at the Uinversity of Bergen




How to Cite

Naime, M. (2019). Decisions in crisis: Heuristics in policy transfer under uncertainty. International Public Management Review, 19(2), 66–88. Retrieved from