The Open Society Institute ( OSI) is a private operating and grant-making foundation that serves as the hub of the Soros foundations network, a group of autonomous national foundations around the world. OSI and the network implement a range of initiatives that aim to promote open societies by shaping national and international policies with knowledge and expertise. The OSI provides an excellent case study of the strategies of transnational activism of private philanthropy. It is an institutional mechanism for the international diffusion of expertise and ‘best practices’ to post communist countries and other democratizing nations. This paper avoids assumptions that civil society is an entirely separate and distinguishable domain from states and emergent forms of transnational authority. Focusing on the ‘soft’ ideational and normative policy transfer undermines notions of clear cut boundaries between an independent philanthropic body in civil society and highlights the intermeshing and mutual engagement that comes with networks, coalitions, joint funding, partnerships and common policy dialogues
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