Understanding Public Policy: How to Maximise the Use of Evidence

Researchers, activists, policy professionals, and practitioners across sectors and disciplines are working to tackle global challenges such as poverty, inequality and climate change through influencing policy and practice at local, national and global levels. Yet toolkits and guidelines for getting evidence into use frequently fail to pay enough attention to policy theory.

Professor Paul Cairney argues that in many sectors, including development, scholars’ assumptions about the value of academic research, particularly when grounded in locally generated evidence and their perceptions of flawed policy processes has left us ill-equipped to navigate the stormy waters of evidence informed policy and practice. He proposes that instead we extract key insights from policy theories and use them to inform discussions about how to promote evidence use.