The article analyses a phenomenon that has accompanied teacher salary reform in Mongolia: the import of two global education policies that were nearly identical to the already existing local bonus system (olympiads). To make sense of an import that appears superfluous, the author analyses the reception and translation of the triple bonus system over time. The interpretive framework draws on system theory and pays attention to: (1) developments within a system or a context that explain the likelihood of policy borrowing; (2) change processes over time that result from interactions within a system as well as the system with its environment; and (3) periods of convergence and divergence that occur over the lifespan of a policy. The author finds that research on policy borrowing and lending has greatly contributed to better understanding the transnational flows of educational reforms. In contrast to spatial analyses, the time dimension of the global/local nexus is neither sufficiently studied nor convincingly interpreted. The author draws attention to the functional differentiation that occurred within the triple bonus system, and argues for a comparative policy studies perspective that acknowledges the salutary effects of policy borrowing for coalition building and change.