The papers in this special section of AJPA are the product of a symposium held in Brisbane in February 2003, which was jointly sponsored by the School of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Queensland and the Queensland Department of Premier and Cabinet. Three papers were delivered. David Adams, from the Victorian Public Service, delivered a paper entitled 'Usable knowledge and public policy'. Wayne Parsons, from the University of London, gave a paper 'Not just steering but weaving: Relevant knowledge and the craft of building policy capacity'. Randal Stewart, a policy consultant based in Sydney, gave a paper entitled 'Public sector reform knowledge production'. The purposes of this paper are to highlight salient points from the papers and to assess briefly the institutional and governance implications of taking at last some steps beyond the currently prevailing rationalist approaches to policy and governance.