The literature on policy transfer has paid little attention to how policy-makers strategically employ learning from abroad as a resource to advance their domestic policy preferences and successfully implement a policy program. Addressing this research gap, we further develop the concept of “political learning,” distinguishing three dimensions: “learning as an argumentative resource,” “selective learning,” and “learning about policy design.” Empirically, we illustrate the relevance of political learning from abroad for the case of developing an emissions trading system in Australia. In particular, we show how government policy-makers in Australia used political learning from abroad to promote emissions trading in the context of a polarized domestic climate of adversarial ideas and competing interests.

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