International organizations (IOs) such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are assumed to rely on ‘sympathetic interlocutors’ at the national level to drive through economic reforms that conform to global policy norms. In this article we answer the following question: How do sympathetic interlocutors for IOs emerge in the first place? We address this question by examining how IOs engage in teaching norms to national officials via transnational policy training in order to increase the number of domestic reformers who are sympathetic to their prescriptions for policy change. We provide a conceptual framework for understanding how IOs seek to use their own cognitive authority to foster ‘diagnostic coordination’ across technocratic economic policy communities. This encourages officials to adapt to a common policy language and delimits the policy space within which they identify and propose solutions to economic problems.