Turtles all the way down: bounded rationality in an evidence-based age

Botterill, Linda Courtenay and Hindmoor, Andrew (2012) Turtles all the way down: bounded rationality in an evidence-based age. Policy Studies, 33 5: 367-379. doi:10.1080/01442872.2011.626315

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Author Botterill, Linda Courtenay
Hindmoor, Andrew
Title Turtles all the way down: bounded rationality in an evidence-based age
Journal name Policy Studies   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0144-2872
Publication date 2012-01-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1080/01442872.2011.626315
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 33
Issue 5
Start page 367
End page 379
Total pages 13
Place of publication Abingdon, Oxon, United Kingdom
Publisher Routledge
Language eng
Abstract Evidence-based policy-making (EBPM) has become both a catch-cry and aspiration of governments. Drawing on 'the evidence', governments seek to focus on 'what works' and so avoid the pitfalls of policy driven by ideology or values. Critics of EBPM remind us that the policy process remains messy and uncertain and that while research may deliver the latest scientific evidence, it is not always translated effectively into policy. We argue that the problems with EBPM run much deeper. This is not only because of the way in which knowledge is employed by policy-makers but because of the way in which knowledge is collected and communicated to policy-makers. It is well understood that policy actors are boundedly rational and this impacts upon the way in which evidence is used in the policy process. What has not been clearly articulated and is the focus of this article is that bounded rationality applies equally to the production of evidence. Drawing on the work of Polish microbiologist Ludwick Fleck we discuss how the process of systematically collecting and communicating evidence can undermine the aspirations of EPBM. We illustrate this argument with reference to recent policy debates about obesity.
Keyword Evidence-based policy
Bounded rationality
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2013 Collection
School of Political Science and International Studies Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 13 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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