This edition of our quarterly highlights collection focuses on the role of evidence in policymaking. It’s a theme we’ve curated collections around regularly, but our readership figures for these articles remind us time and again how important our community find this topic.
So, our first article on this theme by authors Clementine Hill O’Connor, Katherine Smith, and Ellen Stewart explores the question of how to balance evidence with public preferences.
How can policy organisations deal with competing (and sometimes conflicting) imperatives to strengthen the role of evidence in policy, with simultaneous calls to better engage diverse publics? Academic research has much to say about both the value of evidence for policymaking to increase (or improve) the policymakers’ engagement with evidence AND investigating a wide range of methods through which publics can be involved in policymaking. Perhaps surprisingly, these contributions are rarely connected. This disconnect is the focus of Integrating Evidence and Public Engagement in Policy Work: An empirical examination of three UK policy organisations.
Natália Massaco Koga, Miguel Loureiro Pedro Lucas de Moura Palotti, Rafael da Silva Lins Bruno Gontyjo do Couto and Shanna Nogueira Lima.
The Evidence-based policy (EBP) movement argues for policy actors to use scientific evidence on ‘what works’ to improve public policies, highlighting the importance of science in policymaking. Empirical research shows that even bureaucrats in Anglo-Saxon countries, strongly influenced by this movement do not use academic sources widely, often preferring other sources of information, such as news media, public opinion and peers. But what informs policy in countries with low EBP influence?
Across the world over the last thirty years, the provision of policy advice to governments has been transformed as a diverse range of actors have been increasingly engaged in the policy-making process. Academic research needs to better understand the changes that have taken place by considering the shape of the new advisory systems, and the influence of different types of policy advice. In my latest research article in Policy & Politics, I seek to address this gap in understanding. The scholars Jonathan Craft and John Halligan developed the concept of a ‘policy advisory system’ to explain how policy advice is formulated by ‘interlocking actors’ beyond the formal bureaucracy of government. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) define policy advisory systems as the autonomous organisations – advisory bodies, think-tanks, policy labs, ‘what works’ centres, political advisers, committees of inquiry – that sustain government’s requirement for knowledge and expertise. Their growth has been observed particularly in the Anglophone countries – New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and the UK. Continue reading →
National officials working in international bureaucracies regularly invoke the fear that member-states strategically use such officials for influencing decision-making to their advantage. Using ones national officials as ‘Trojan horses’ naturally implies a lack of autonomy of such officials working in international organizations, which critically threatens the independence of the organization as such. While national officials’ potential lack of autonomy has been extensively discussed in both academic and public circles, the underlying mechanisms are less well understood. Our analysis takes one step in this direction.
A key factor that is often brought forward to explain any (potential) lack of autonomy among national officials in international Continue reading →