Evidence-Based Policy-Making: Merits and Challenges

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-31816-5_3901-1



The democratically elected may be interested in increasing the effectiveness of their policies through designs, implementations, and evaluations of much more consistent policies and programs. In a democracy, if governments do not give good results, they lose sympathy and possibly votes; therefore, its inefficiency has a high cost, and therefore, the way to improve performance based on the use of knowledge or evidence is sought. This paper seeks to display the debates which have evolved around the concept of evidence-based policy-making and to weigh its advantages and disadvantages by making reference to the newly emerging literature on the topic.

Ensuring that scientific knowledge is used in the making of public policies is a long aspiration in different parts of the world (Hanna et al. 2010; Reimers et al. 2000). From this logic of modernity, evidence-based research attributed a power...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Aguilar AG, Santos C (2011) Informal settlements’ needs and environmental conservation in Mexico City: an unsolved challenge for land-use policy. Land Use Policy 28(4):649–662CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ávalos Bracho M (2010) Merger policy and efficiency gains. Economía Mex Nueva Época 19(2):343–379Google Scholar
  3. Bacon F (2009) The new Atlantis. The Floating Press, PortlandGoogle Scholar
  4. Begg C, Cho M, Eastwood S, Horton R, Moher D, Olkin I, …, Stroup DF (1996) Improving the quality of reporting of randomized controlled trials: the CONSORT statement. JAMA 276(8): 637–639CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bellinger WK (2015) The economic analysis of public policy. Routledge, London/New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Benson K, Hartz AJ (2000) A comparison of observational studies and randomized, controlled trials. N Engl J Med 342(25):1878–1886CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Best JW, Kahn JV (2016) Research in education. Pearson Education, LondonGoogle Scholar
  8. Birkeland S, Murphy-Graham E, Weiss C (2005) Good reasons for ignoring good evaluation: the case of the drug abuse resistance education (D.A.R.E.) program. Eval Program Plann 28:247–256CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bogenschneider K, Corbett TJ (2011) Evidence-based policymaking: insights from policy-minded researchers and research-minded policymakers. Routledge, London/New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bracho MÁ (2010) Merger policy and efficiency gains. Economía Mexicana. Nueva Época, 19(2):343–376Google Scholar
  11. Brown W (2009) Edgework: critical essays on knowledge and politics. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  12. Cabinet Office (1999) Professional policy-making for the twenty first century. Retrieved from: https://ntouk.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/professional-policy-making-for-the-21st-century-1999.pdf (last accessed on 29 Oct 2019)
  13. Coburn CE (2001) Collective sensemaking about reading: how teachers mediate reading policy in their professional communities. Educ Eval Policy Anal 23:145–170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Coburn CE, Talbert JE (2006) Conceptions of evidence-based practice in school districts: mapping the terrain. Am J Educ 112:469–495CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Coburn CE, Touré J, Yamashita M (2009) Evidence, interpretation, and persuasion: instructional decision making at the district central office. Teach Coll Rec 111(4):1115–1161Google Scholar
  16. Cohen MA (1998) The monetary value of saving a high-risk youth. J Quant Criminol 14(1):5–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Colman AM, Pulford BD, Rose J (2008) Collective rationality in interactive decisions: evidence for team reasoning. Acta Psychol 128(2):387–397CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Concato J, Shah N, Horwitz RI (2000) Randomized, controlled trials, observational studies, and the hierarchy of research designs. N Engl J Med 342(25):1887–1892CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Cook FL, Tyler TR, Goetz EG, Gordon MT, Protess D, Leff DR, Molotch HL (1983) Media and agenda setting: effects on the public, interest group leaders, policy makers, and policy. Public Opin Q 47(1):16–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. David JL (1981) Local uses of title I evaluations. Educ Eval Policy Anal 3:27–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Davies HT, Nutley SM (eds) (2000) What works?: Evidence-based policy and practice in public services. Policy Press, BristolGoogle Scholar
  22. De Jaegher H, Di Paolo E (2007) Participatory sense-making. Phenomenol Cogn Sci 6(4):485–507CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Dervin B (1998) Sense-making theory and practice: an overview of user interests in knowledge seeking and use. J Knowl Manag 2(2):36–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Desrosières A (2008) Gouverner par les nombres: L’Argument statistique II. Presses de l’Ecole des Mines, ParisGoogle Scholar
  25. European Commission (2001) European governance: a white paper, COM(2001) 428 final. European Commission, BrusselsGoogle Scholar
  26. European Commission (2013) Towards social investment for growth and cohesion – including implementing the European social fund 2014–2020, COM(2013) 83 final. European Commission, BrusselsGoogle Scholar
  27. Evett IW, Jackson G, Lambert JA, McCrossan S (2000) The impact of the principles of evidence interpretation on the structure and content of statements. Sci Justice 40(4):233–239CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Fetterman DM, Kaftarian SJ, Wandersman A (1996) Empowerment evaluation: knowledge and tools for self-assessment and accountability. Sage, Thousand OaksGoogle Scholar
  29. Fischer F (2003) Reframing public policy: discursive politics and deliberative practices. Oxford University Press, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Giraldo G, Morales J, Granada Vahos J (2009) Las Políticas Públicas Territoriales Como Redes De Política Pública Y Gobernanza Local: La Experiencia De Diseño Y Formulación De Las Políticas Públicas Sobre Desplazamiento Forzado En El Departamento De Antioquia Y La Ciudad De Medellín.(Territorial public politics as networks of public policies and local governance: the experience of the design and formulation of the public policies on forced displacement in the department of Antioquia and the city of Medellín)Google Scholar
  31. Golden-Biddle K, Reay T, Petz S, Witt C, Casebeer A, Pablo A, Hinings CR (2003) Toward a communicative perspective of collaborating in research: the case of the researcher-decision-maker partnership. J Health Serv Res Policy 8(2_suppl):20–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hammersley M (ed) (2002) Educational research, policymaking and practice. SageGoogle Scholar
  33. Hanna D, Francisco B, David I (eds) (2010) Educational research and innovation the nature of learning using research to inspire practice: using research to inspire practice. OECD publishing, ParisGoogle Scholar
  34. Head BW (2008) Three lenses of evidence-based policy. Aust J Public Adm 67(1):1–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Head BW (2010) Reconsidering evidence-based policy: Key issues and challengesGoogle Scholar
  36. Hero RE, Tolbert CJ (1996) A racial/ethnic diversity interpretation of politics and policy in the states of the US. Am J Polit Sci 40(3):851–871CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hofmeyer A, Scott C, Lagendyk L (2012) Researcher-decision-maker partnerships in health services research: practical challenges, guiding principles. BMC Health Serv Res 12(1):280CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Hopf T (2007) The limits of interpreting evidence. In: Theory and evidence in comparative politics and international relations. Palgrave Macmillan, New York, pp 55–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Howlett M (2009) Policy analytical capacity and evidence-based policy-making: lessons from Canada. Can Public Adm 52(2):153–175CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Howlett M, Newman J (2010) Policy analysis and policy work in federal systems: policy advice and its contribution to evidence-based policy-making in multi-level governance systems. Polic Soc 29(2):123–136. http://www.evidencecollaborative.org/principles-evidence-based-policymakingCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Huberman M (1990) Linkage between researchers and practitioners: a qualitative study. Am Educ Res J 27(2):363–391CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Huberman M (1994) Research utilization: the state of the art. Knowl Technol Policy 7(4):363–391Google Scholar
  43. Johnson BL Jr (1999) The politics of research-information use in the education policy arena. Educ Policy 13(1):23–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Kay A (2006) The dynamics of public policy: theory and evidence. Edward Elgar Publishing, CheltenhamGoogle Scholar
  45. Kennedy MM (1982) Working knowledge and other essays. The Huron Institute, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  46. Kothari A, MacLean L, Edwards N, Hobbs A (2011) Indicators at the interface: managing policymaker-researcher collaboration. Knowl Manag Res Pract 9(3):203–214CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Lavis JN, Ross SE, Hurley JE (2002) Examining the role of health services research in public policymaking. Milbank Q 80(1):125–154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Lodge DM, Shrader-Frechette K (2003) Nonindigenous species: ecological explanation, environmental ethics, and public policy. Conserv Biol 17(1):31–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Majone G (1989) Evidence, argument, and persuasion in the policy process. Yale University Press, New HavenGoogle Scholar
  50. Morrell K (2012) Evidence-based dialectics. Organization 19(4):461–479CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Noordegraaf M, Abma T (2003) Management by measurement? Public management practices amidst ambiguity. Public Adm 81(4):853–871CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Pawson R (2002) Evidence-based policy: the promise ofrealist synthesis. Evaluation 8(3):340–358CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Pham MT (2007) Emotion and rationality: a critical review and interpretation of empirical evidence. Rev Gen Psychol 11(2):155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Rees J, Bandyopadhyay S, Spafford EH (2003) A policy framework for information security. Commun ACM 46(7):101–106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Reimers F, McGinn NF, Almonacid MR (2000) Diálogo informado: el uso de la investigación para conformar la política educativa. Centro de Estudios Educativos, Ciudad de MéxicoGoogle Scholar
  56. Riccucci N (2018) Managing diversity in public sector workforces: essentials of public policy and administration series. Routledge, London/New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Riege A, Lindsay N (2006) Knowledge management in the public sector: stakeholder partnerships in the public policy development. J Knowl Manag 10(3):24–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Sanderson I (2003) Is it ‘what works’ that matters? Evaluation and evidence-based policy-making. Res Pap Educ 18(4):331–345CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Savolainen R (1993) The sense-making theory: reviewing the interests of a user-centered approach to information seeking and use. Inf Process Manag 29(1):13–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Selamat MH, Hashim A (2008) A qualitative decision trail in the hermeneutic analysis evidence from the case study. Int J Bus Manag 3(3):41–55Google Scholar
  61. Shaxson L (2005) Is your evidence robust enough? Questions for policy makers and practitioners. Evid Policy: J Res Debate Pract 1(1):101–112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Smith PC, Davies HTO, Nutley SM (2000) What works? Evidence-based policy and practice in public services. The Policy Press, BristolGoogle Scholar
  63. Stone DA (1989) Causal stories and the formation of policy agendas. Polit Sci Q 104(2):281–300CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Stone D (2001) Policy paradox: the art of political decision making. W.W. Norton and Company, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  65. Walter I, Nutley S, Davies H (2005) What works to promote evidence-based practice? A cross-sector review. Evid Policy: J Res Debate Pract 1(3):335–364CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Ward V, House A, Hamer S (2009) Knowledge brokering: the missing link in the evidence to action chain? Evid Policy: J Res Debate Pract 5(3):267–279CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Weiss M (1993) New guiding principles in educational policy: the case of Germany. J Educ Policy 8(4):307–320CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Weiss CH, Murphy-Graham E, Petrosino A, Gandhi AG (2008) The fairy godmother – and her warts: making the dream of evidence-based policy come true. Am J Eval 29(1):29–47CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Williams A (2010) Is evidence-based policy making really possible? Reflections for policymakers and academics on making use of research in the work of policy. In: Colebatch HK, Hoppe R, Noordegraaf M (eds) Working for policy: 195–210. Amsterdam University Press, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  70. Yanow D (2000) Conducting interpretive policy analysis. Sage, Newbury ParkCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Public AdministrationManisa Celal Bayar UniversityManisaTurkey