Journal of Educational Change

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 19–36 | Cite as

Advancing policy makers’ expertise in evidence-use: A new approach to enhancing the role research can have in aiding educational policy development



This paper explores the notion of evidence-informed policy making and the factors that have hindered its development in the UK to date. It then explores Flyvbjerg’s notion of phronetic expertise and hypothesises that the learning that accrues from engaging with multiple cases could also lead to policy-makers developing competency in relation to evidence use. As a result, I contend that, given the issues that abound with current attempts to embed and enact evidence informed policy making, the phronetic approach presents an alternative and viable way of establishing enhanced levels of evidence use within educational policy development. As such, the paper not only proposes educational change but as a consequence, it also puts forward suggestions for ways of facilitating more effective educational change in terms of the development of educational policy. In particular, the paper spotlights a need for current thought in this area to move away from rational and linear perspectives, to ones where policy makers are continuously incorporating the most up to date evidence into their thinking, enabling it to be intuitively conjoined with other pertinent and salient factors in order to provide a holistic and well-rounded decision in relation to given issues. I argue that this could occur most effectively via the establishment of policy learning communities and processes to facilitate the creation of knowledge within them. I also suggest that expectations of individuals and organizational cultures will need to change to accommodate participation by policy officials within such communities.


Evidence informed policy making Expertise Flyvbjerg Evidence use Knowledge mobilisation Knowledge adoption 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.London Centre for Leadership in Learning, Institute of EducationUniversity of LondonLondonUK

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