‘Evidence-based policy’ and ‘what works’ are phrases that have become increasingly embedded in debate surrounding good policy-making over the last 20 years. This period has seen no shortage of critiques of these terms and the ways in which they have been employed, but relatively few attempts to articulate the precise foundations of knowledge on which they rest. Yet there are many interesting and important questions that might be asked. How exactly are stronger forms of evidence to be separated from weaker forms? What foundational assumptions lie behind the frequent endorsement of experimental methods? Or, most fundamentally, what precisely is the nature of the proposed link between good evidence and good policy? Continue reading A new understanding of evidence-based policy
Journal Manager of Policy & Politics
In celebration of this year’s APPAM research conference theme on diverse perspectives on issues and evidence, we bring you our latest research on that topic. To read the original research, download the articles below which are free to access until 31st January 2020. Happy reading! Continue reading Policy & Politics Winter Highlights collection free to access from 6 November 2019– 31st January 2020.
Richard D. French
This blog post was originally published on the Discover Society – Policy and Politics blog on 2 January 2019.
I have watched an enthusiastic, well-intentioned lobby for evidence-based policy on my campus for several years. However, I frequently reflect that if I were to opine publicly on evolutionary biology, or astrophysics, with as little knowledge of the subject as various scientifically trained persons hold forth on public policy, I would soon be read out of the intellectually reputable part of the university community – and rightly so.
Continue reading Is it time to give up on evidence-based policy? Four answers
Journal Manager of Policy & Politics
In celebration of this year’s APPAM theme of improving policy-making by developing and engaging with evidence, we bring you the latest and best of our research on this topic. From our prize-winning article on Evidence translation: an exploration of policy makers’ use of evidence by Jo Ingold and Mark Monaghan, which defines a new conceptual model of evidence translation highlighting the crucial role evidence plays in the policy process, to Richard French’s exploration of answers to the question whether it is time to give up on evidence based policy.
Continue reading Free research articles for APPAM 2018 from Policy & Politics on improving policy-making by engaging with evidence
The ‘multiple streams approach’ (MSA) is one of policy scholarship’s biggest successes. Kingdon’s original is one the highest cited books in policy studies, and there is a thriving programme of empirical application and theoretical refinement.
Yet, I argue that its success is built on shaky foundations because its alleged strength – its flexible metaphor of streams and windows of opportunity – is actually its weakness. Most scholars describe MSA superficially, fail to articulate the meaning of its metaphor, do not engage with state of the art developments, and struggle to apply its concepts systematically to empirical research. These limitations create an acute scientific problem: most scholars apply MSA without connecting it to a coherent research agenda.
In my recent article in Policy & Politics, I seek to solve this problem in three ways. Continue reading Three habits of successful policy entrepreneurs
In their efforts to professionalize, contemporary governments have embraced the idea of evidence-based policy. They draw legitimacy from science, basing their ideas for new policies on ‘what works’. A particular wave of evidence-based thinking that is very vivid at the moment is ‘Behavioural Insights’. This is the subject of my recent research article in Policy & Politics entitled: Brokering Behaviour Change: The Work of Behavioural Insights Experts in Government. Continue reading Making policy in the era of Nudge
Rob De Leo
An extended version of this blog post was originally published on Discover Society.
From the number of drug overdoses to annual average temperatures, public transportation ridership rates to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), government is inundated with data documenting social problems. In theory, these statistics should lead to more informed decision making. In practice, they are heavily politicized. Organized interests compete to ensure that their preferred statistic is adopted as the preferred measure of a given policy problem, a testament to these so-called “problem indicators” are important determinants of policy maker attention.
Virtually every major theory of policy making suggests indicators and other forms of information play an important role in stimulating issue attention and provoking policy maker action. My recent paper, “Indicators, agendas, and stream: Analysing the Politics of Preparedness,” applies the Multiple Streams Framework (MSF), which argues policy change is facilitated by the coupling of three distinct streams: (1) the problem stream, which consists of the various social issues competing for policy maker attention; (2) the policy stream, which encompasses the various policies and programs designed to address items in the problem stream; and (3) the politics stream, which broadly describes the current political environment, including trends in public opinion as well as the composition of government. Coupling is aided by a policy entrepreneur or an individual or organization willing to invest considerable amounts of time and energy to secure policy change. Once the three streams are coupled, a policy window is opened providing organized interests with an opportunity to push their pet issues onto the policy agenda and, ideally, secure policy change. Continue reading Data Matters…Sometimes: Revisiting the Connection between Problem Indicators and Policy Maker Attention