What can you do when policymakers ignore your evidence? Encourage ‘knowledge management for policy’

Knowledge management for policy impact by Lene Topp, David Mair, Laura Smillie (from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, JRC & Paul Cairney (not from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, JRC)

Put down that huge blue pen again. Step even further away from the flipchart. The JRC did all those exercises for you, and there are no more sticky circles or fluorescent post-its left.

In this article, we show the payoffs to a wide information-gathering exercise, from expert workshops to literature reviews, to produce advice on how to close the evidence-policy gap. We recommend that relevant organisations should develop teams of researchers, policymakers, and ‘knowledge brokers’ to produce eight key practices:

  1. research synthesis, to generate ‘state of the art’ knowledge on a policy problem
  2. management of expert communities, to maximise collaboration
  3. understanding policymaking, to know when and how to present evidence
  4. interpersonal skills, to focus on relationships and interaction
  5. engagement, to include citizens and stakeholders
  6. effective communication of knowledge
  7. monitoring and evaluation, to identify the impact of evidence on policy
  8. policy advice, to know how to present knowledge effectively and ethically.

We do so in colour:

Figure 1

We describe the problems that these 8 skills are designed to solve:

Table 1

Then we scare you with a cautionary tale:

Table 2 Topp et al

We conclude:

‘In recommending eight skills, we argue that ‘pure scientists’ and ‘professional politicians’ cannot do this job alone. Scientists need ‘knowledge brokers’ and science advisors with the skills to increase policymakers’ demand for evidence. Policymakers need help to understand and explain the evidence and its implications. Brokers are essential: scientists with a feel for policy and policymakers understanding how to manage science and scientists.

Many scientists are in a great position to move into this new profession, providing a more robust form of knowledge-based consultancy, built on a crucial understanding of scientific methods and evidence assessment. However, working between science and policy is hard to manoeuver, and the training we identify is more like a career choice than a quick fix. Science and policy worlds are interconnected, but not always compatible. Therefore, knowledge managers need to professionalise, to develop new skills, and work in teams with a comprehensive set of skills unlikely to be held by one person’.

It already sounds like a career choice, doesn’t it? Still, we need to think further:

  • How far should you go to privilege evidence? 1. Evidence and governance principles (go to page 101)
  • How far should you go to privilege evidence? 2. Policy theories, scenarios, and ethical dilemmas (go to page 526)
  • How far should you go to privilege evidence? 3. Use psychological insights to manipulate policymakers (go to page 300 then scroll down to point 3)

[If you came here in error, or to continue your adventure, go to page 100]

6 Comments

Filed under Evidence Based Policymaking (EBPM), public policy

6 responses to “What can you do when policymakers ignore your evidence? Encourage ‘knowledge management for policy’

  1. Pingback: What can you do when policymakers ignore your evidence? | Paul Cairney: Politics & Public Policy

  2. Pingback: How else can we describe and seek to fill the evidence-policy gap? | Paul Cairney: Politics & Public Policy

  3. Pingback: What can you do when policymakers ignore your evidence? Tips from the ‘how to’ literature from the science community | Paul Cairney: Politics & Public Policy

  4. Pingback: The Politics of Evidence-Based Policymaking: ANZSOG talks | Paul Cairney: Politics & Public Policy

  5. Pingback: Taking lessons from policy theory into practice: 3 examples | Paul Cairney: Politics & Public Policy

  6. Pingback: Theory and Practice: How to Communicate Policy Research beyond the Academy | Paul Cairney: Politics & Public Policy

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