CENTRAL EUROPEAN UNIVERSITY

RESEARCH AND POLICY
Final Essay (autumn semester)
Neata Georgiana

10

and on the other side. clearly depends to a large extent on the quality of the policy advice that is injected into the governance process to help guide key decision makers (Paul Burton. specifically whether they produce outcomes more likely.].. that should be judged in terms of the quality of the decisions taken and policies adopted. the other feels their opposite numbers have little to say´. and what are the factors that lead to this conflict between policy makers and researchers. Therefore. Firstly I would like to show the importance of policy research and evidence in creating policies. Defining the problem The mean of the gap between policy and research is that researchers often consider that there is no political audience for their work despite the important observations they make and policy relevant explanations they develop. 2006). In words of Diane Stone we can say that there is a lack of dialogue between researchers and policy makers and that inadequate or insufficient use is made of research findings. Alternate source of policy ideas from outside the government bureaucracy are very much needed [. and in order to have a complete picture about the topic I will also present ways in which we can bridge policy and research.. [.´ Introduction Living in a dynamic society in which knowledge means power is even more surprising how people still oppose resistance towards evidence in making policy and are more likely to create policies based on ideology. policy makers often consider that what researchers contribute is not relevant.[. . however.] These politicians have begun taking legislative initiatives in areas where social needs clearly require addressing but where government bureaucracy has constrained efforts to address them. The second part will focus on the position of Japan¶s government towards evidence based policy making approach. Or how Danida Report presents it: ³Where one group feels nobody listens. the aim of this essay is to look at the much controversial issue of the evidence based policy process.Research and policy ³Indeed. should scientific evidence to a larger extent be the basis of policy making? In my attempt to find the answers for these questions I will present in the first part of this paper the meaning of this so called gap by presenting the dispute between evidence based policy and policy based evidence.. too esoteric and asking theoretical questions that do not resonate with the needs of policy makers.. I believe that the importance of evidence based policy also comes from the need for good governance. the traditional pattern of policy making in which government bureaucrats have played a predominant role has come under fire in recent years. in comparing the likely impact of alternative policy solutions to these problems and in evaluating the ultimate impact of any measure that is put into effect. superstition or unconscious bias.] Yet these politicians are not sufficiently equipped with the necessary support structure for conducting legislative activities... by trying to answer two questions: is there a gap between policy and research? and. Considering the policy cycle model it is said that policy research plays an important role at every stage of the process: in helping to frame and understand problems that demand policy intervention.

Furthermore the supply of research is flawed due to the poor policy comprehension of researchers about the policy process and how research might be relevant to this process. Or even if the comprehension exists. Problems arise from the politicisation of research. forward planning and greater dialogue between researchers and policy makers can harmonise the cycles of research and policy making so that research evidence is more likely to be available when policy makers need it. Finally. researchers are ineffective communicators. Second. policy research should be driven more by the needs and requirements of policy makers than by the inquisitive preferences of researchers. or where evidence exists there is a lack of access to research. they gather and utilise information to support their policy positions as well as to legitimise decision outcomes. They may be unaware of cutting ± edge research. But even if they are not ignorant or censorious. First.Next I will show the factors that lead to this gap both from the view of policy makers and researchers. decontextualisation. The solution seems to lie in a number of developments. or misquotation. that there is currently insufficient information for policy planning. while the policy process itself is riddled with a fear of the critical power of ideas. although the significance of timeliness and presentation is also acknowledged. 1 Diane Stone. definitive conclusions are often eschewed and there is a preoccupation with methodology and citation of the work of others. Alternatively. either through selective use. concisely and coherently and to avoid an overly ³academic´ style of writing in which a highly specialised language is used. Using Knowledge: the dilemmas of Bridging Research and Policy . they usually cannot and often do not want to provide the unequivocal answers or solutions of the kind policy-makers demand. 2002 . Research recommendations can be impossible to implement because political realities are not addressed. the demonstrable and persistent failure to use much of the evidence generated by policy research presents a problem under this conception as the inherent quality of the research cannot account adequately for this lack of utilisation. data and analysis. Decision makers have limited time and resources. or how Diane Stone1 puts it from the demand side and also from the supply side. Improving the relation between policy and research The value of research is based primarily on the rigour with which it is undertaken and hence the robustness of its findings and conclusions. Consequently. On the other side. Third. Another argument is that there is a tendency for anti ± intellectualism in government that mitigates against the use of research in policy ± making. However. one of the problems researchers imply is that their work is undermined by the ignorance of politicians or overstretched bureaucrats about the existence of policy ± relevant research. policy makers and leaders may be incapable of absorbing and using research. they employ information from trusted sources ± usually in-house or close to the centre of power ± to help generate simple and understandable recommendations about complex problems. Policy makers argue that there is an inadequate supply of policy relevant research. Research findings are easy to abuse. policy researchers are urged to pay more attention to the quality of their research. Decision makers do this in order to reinforce existing policy preferences or prejudices. policy researchers are encouraged to present their findings more clearly.

comparing alternative sources of public policy advice . that have the limited role to assemble policy related data. and because of the enactment of specific legislation to curb their influence. The LDP has its think tank whose board is made up of party officials. specifically. as evidenced by some clear cases of policy failures. Guidance for Governance. political leaders have voiced the need for their parties to develop think thanks of their own. Besides the resources available to the legislative branch (The House of Representatives and the House of Councillors both have research staff attached to their committees) and the legislative assistants available to members of Diet. So. and for this I will present the case of Japan¶s government and the sources of advice it uses in developing policies in the way that R Kent Weaver and Paul B Stares2 sees it . Moreover there is a growing awareness that there should be greater involvement of diverse actors in the policy debate and the legislative process in response to the growing diversification of interests within society and the increasing complexities of Japan¶s external relationship. many of them being for profit institutions. The new political environment in Japan calls out for a critical assessment of possible sources of policy ideas that can help politicians formulate policy initiatives or equip themselves with a better understanding of diverse policy options. Further I will have a look at the attitude that concrete governments have in what it concerns the importance of policy research and evidence in constructing policies. whose staff members are not policy research experts but party operatives that have the job to organize the numerous meetings that take place under the auspices of Policy Affairs Research Council. Japan¶s model Along with the more active. In Japan. although they work occasionally with outside experts to generate policy ideas. 2001 . substantive involvement of politicians in legislative activities in recent years. The role of government bureaucrats in the policymaking process has declined because of their inability to cope with pluralistic social needs. However. in Japan there are also research departments assigned for each major political party. the contribution of think tanks to the policy process has been limited by the dominant role of civil servants in the formulation of public policy. Though the number of research institutes in Japan is very large.This is seen to lie mainly in the design of research as well as the application of relevant methods and is manifest most clearly in ongoing debates about the value of experimental and other methods in outcome evaluations. Given the lack of internal competence for generating policy ideas and initiatives. there has emerged a distinct trend for more politicians to seek independent sources of advice outside the government bureaucracy. from 2 R Kent Weaver and Paul B Stares. 2006). they are very different from those in the United States. there is also a perceived need to improve standards in the conduct of qualitative research and to develop more widespread competence in quantitative research and to develop more widespread competence in quantitative analytical techniques in public policy analysis (Paul Burton.

they have been tarred as robots cheerleaders backers tunnel organizations and ornaments. policies. sustainable future requires a fundamental shift in the way we generate. academics. March 2006. The debate over governance in Japan has centred on moving away from the ineffective bureaucracy led system. What prevents us from overcoming policy resistance is not a lack of resources. at Diet hearings. and leading citizens have set in motion additional initiatives sources of policy advice in Japan. 46. 3 33 . Still I must admit that this ideal method of policy making has its flows. No. seeking to convince politicians of the need for certain policy. There is as well the need to develop a stable supply of human resources by providing training and assuring a secure career path.the 332 think tanks studies show to be in Japan. building a funding base that circumvents control by the government agencies and recruiting competent policy experts to meet short term requirements. Sterman. and at public occasions. technical knowledge. or a genuine commitment to change. that are often portrayed as ³helpless or willing tools of their parent agencies. These groups usually operate with specific goals in mind. and act on evidence about the delayed and distal effects of our technologies. American Journal of Public Health. and to orient politicians in different ways of policymaking. Another source of advice used in Japan are the private advisory councils for political leaders. and institutions. and cannot be always used. NGOs. while only one institute in Japan does so. Vol 96. Another characteristic of Japanese think tanks is that they are closely associated with government agencies or major corporations and are often regarded as their subsidiaries. Conclusion John D Sterman3 sees the problem as: ³Creating a healthy. more than 75 percent of think thanks worldwide published all or mostly all of their research. consultative organs to government agencies. on government commissions. learn from. There is multiplicity of challenges in creating independent institutions for the provision of alternative policy advice. because it may be expensive and time consuming. to develop a market for policy advice among politicians. More than 40 percent of think tanks worldwide make all their research output available to the public. In particular there are few alternative sources of policy ideas for legislators to rely on outside the government bureaucracy. John D. The infrastructure to support the policymaking initiatives of elected politicians is still very fragile.´ Policy makers should recognise the enlightenment that can be brought to bear on the general policy environment by social scientific concepts. while less than 50 percent in Japan does so. theories and ideas.5% are for profit institutes. What thwarts us is our lack of meaningful systems thinking. Learning from evidence in a complex world . At best these councils are regarded as an effort by the bureaucracy to counteract the diminished authority of the civil service after World War II and generate public trust in the impartiality and openness of the bureaucracy. but evidence based policy process should be the rule and not the exception in creating policies. One way think tanks in Japan do contribute to the public debate is through the constant visibility of their leaders in the media.

³Guidance for Governance. Diane Stone. 3 2. Policy Studies.Bibliography 1. Vol 27. R Kent Weaver and Paul B Stares. No 3. Vol 96. 2001 3. comparing alternative sources of public policy advice´. Paul Burton. John D. ³Using Knowledge: the dilemmas of µBridging Research and Policy¶´. 2002 4. 2006 . ³Learning from evidence in a complex world´. March 2006. ³Modernising the policy process ± Making policy research more significant?´. American Journal of Public Health. Sterman. No.