Tag Archives: experts

Does it matter if politicians know what they are doing?

grodem and hippeAnne Skevik Grødem & Jon M. Hippe

In the current political climate, academic knowledge and topical expertise do not appear to be the most sought-after qualities in political leaders. Increasingly, life in the world’s capitals is portrayed as a battle for power between politicians and civil servants. Incoming politicians are often charismatic, prone to sweeping statements on complex issues, and portray themselves as representatives of the people who will “drain the swamp” and “get things done”. Among the swamp creatures, more often than not, they place civil servants: the dull nerds, obsessed with their rules and budgets, far removed from the people they are supposed to be serving. In this picture, there is a clear rift between the dynamic, if ignorant, politician, and the change-averse, but smart, civil servant. Against this background, it seems more important than ever to discuss: what is the relationship between knowledge and action in politics? Or, to put it differently, does it matter whether politicians know what they are doing? Continue reading Does it matter if politicians know what they are doing?

A new understanding of evidence-based policy

philip sayerPhilip Sayer

‘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