Sarah Ball and Brian W. Head
They go by a variety of names; nudge units, behavioural insights (BI) teams and behavioural economics teams. However, they all owe a debt to the pioneering work of the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) in the United Kingdom (UK). Based on behavioural research on the ‘irrational’ behaviours of citizens and/or policy target audiences, ‘nudge’ instruments have been tested through rigorous research in the form of randomised controlled trials. Using this approach, the BIT UK has had a significant impact on the policy innovation landscape across the globe. Teams have emerged in Europe, the US, Canada, Japan, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Peru, Australia, New Zealand and many more countries.
Our research recently published in Policy & Politics explores the BI phenomena as it emerged in Australia, from which we derive analysis relevant to global actors and governments engaged BI. In two independent exploratory studies, we sought to understand how such teams actually operate in practice. One study was an in-depth observational study of staff in the Behavioural Economics Team of the Australian Government (BETA). The other was an interview-based study of three teams, namely, those operating in two state governments, New South Wales and Victoria, together with the Australian government’s BETA. Continue reading Behavioural insights teams in practice: nudge missions and methods on trial
Eleanor MacKillop, Sarah Quarmby and James Downe
If only policy could be better informed by evidence, it would be more efficient, effective and deliver better outcomes. That belief is the premise for most of the current research into what is called ‘knowledge brokering’– linking research to policy and practice. It’s also what has led governments worldwide into investing significant resources into bridging the evidence-policy ‘gap,’ such as What Works Centres in the UK, Productivity Commissions in Australia and New Zealand, or the What Works Clearinghouse in the United States. Unfortunately, the existing literature isn’t clear about what knowledge brokering is, and whether it works. Continue reading Knowledge brokering for policy: What do we know?
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
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
By Sarah Brown, Journal Manager
From a prevailing, long-standing debate in the journal on the welfare state, we bring you a collection of our best and most recent articles. To highlight just a couple: Anthony McCashin’s How much change? Pierson and the welfare state revisited provides a structural overview of the impact of globalisation on analyses of the welfare state.
Meanwhile Sharon Wright, through forensic scrutiny, exposes the gulf between the discursive constitution of the welfare subject by policy makers, and the lived experiences of those subjects in her article Conceptualising the active welfare subject: welfare reform in discourse, policy and lived experience.
All of these articles seek to critically evaluate this contentious area of policy and point towards purposeful research agendas for the future. Download them now before 30 November while they’re free to access! Continue reading New Policy & Politics Virtual Issue on the Welfare State: free to download until the end of November
By Sarah Brown, Journal Manager
Try our new themed virtual issues which are free to download from 1-30 November:
Public Services and Reform
In this new virtual issue, we bring you our most impactful and recent research from diverse perspectives with a coherence of focus on increasing our understanding of public services and reform.
To introduce two highlights from the issue, opening the collection is one of our most innovative articles on how health discourses are linked to population health outcomes, hence the title: Working-class discourses of politics, policy and health: ‘I don’t smoke; I don’t drink. The only thing wrong with me is my health’. Moving from health to employment, Rebecca Taylor analyses the changing dynamics that come into play as the provision of employment services increasingly moves to public, private and third-sector organisations in her article entitled UK employment services: understanding provider strategies in a dynamic strategic action field. Covering a diverse range of public industries, other articles in the collection offer insightful studies across education, social care, disability, counter-terrorism, local government and state regulation.
Download them now before 30 November while they’re free to access! Continue reading New Policy & Politics Virtual Issue on Public Services and Reform: free to download until the end of November
by Sarah Brown, Journal Manager
Free research articles for APPAM 2017 from Policy & Politics on the importance of evidence-based policy making, why measurement matters and, Claire Dunlop on learning from failure.
In celebration of APPAM’s Fall Research Conference theme this year which looks at the importance of measurement in evaluating policy and performance, we have developed a virtual issue of recent research articles based on the conference theme which are free to access from 1-30 November. Just click on the hyperlinks below to go straight to the download page for each article.
Download the articles before 30 November while they’re free to access! Continue reading The importance of evidence-based policy making, why measurement matters, and Claire Dunlop on learning from failure.
Jo Ingold and Mark Monaghan
This blog post is based on the authors’ article, Evidence translation: an exploration of policy makers’ use of evidence, which won the 2016 prize for the best article in Policy & Politics and is free to access until 15 June 2017.
The role of evidence in policy making, and whether evidence-based policy can ever be a reality, has attracted much debate, both inside and outside academia. In our article on what we refer to as ‘evidence translation’, we try to grapple with these issues. Our academic interest in this area stemmed from research we had conducted separately on similar themes (the role of evidence in policy making), but from different traditions and persuasions. Ingold had focused on ideas relating to ‘policy transfer’ in welfare to work, comparing Denmark with the UK. By contrast, Monaghan had concentrated efforts on understanding the standing of evidence in policy debates often seen, by critics, to be evidence free – in this case the area of UK drug policy. Our substantive areas were not a hindrance to our partnership. Instead, we were very much enthralled by some commentaries in the journal Policy & Politics (and elsewhere) that suggested that both evidence-based policy and policy transfer were fundamentally concerned with the same process, but were literatures that had emerged separately. It was, we felt, a hypothesis worth exploring, but more than that we quickly arrived at the conclusion that there was much to be learned by each literature from the other. Continue reading We still need ‘experts’: evidence translation in practice