Are policy-makers interested in social research? Exploring the sources and uses of valued information among public servants in Australia

Head, Brian, Ferguson, Michele, Cherney, Adrian and Boreham, Paul (2014) Are policy-makers interested in social research? Exploring the sources and uses of valued information among public servants in Australia. Policy and Society, 33 2: 89-101. doi:10.1016/j.polsoc.2014.04.004

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Author Head, Brian
Ferguson, Michele
Cherney, Adrian
Boreham, Paul
Title Are policy-makers interested in social research? Exploring the sources and uses of valued information among public servants in Australia
Journal name Policy and Society   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1449-4035
1839-3373
Publication date 2014-06-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.polsoc.2014.04.004
Volume 33
Issue 2
Start page 89
End page 101
Total pages 13
Place of publication Amsterdam, Netherlands
Publisher Elsevier
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Highlights
• New data are analysed from an Australian survey of state and federal public servants (N = 2084).
• The article explores their capacity to use external sources of expertise in policy work.
• Organisational cultures and practices are found to be very important for research use.
• Policy and research skills of staff are variable and substantially learned on the job.
• Policy pressures and political contexts are seen to affect research use.

This article explores the use of research and expertise within a selection of government agencies at state and federal levels in Australia. A recent survey of public officials provides new data on the reported use of evidence and expertise sourced from within the public service and from external sources. The survey instrument targeted the policy, program and evaluation staff in human service agencies and central policy coordination agencies. The survey findings provide new information on public servants’ policy skills and organisational context, their attitudes to non-government sources of expert evidence and knowledge, and their perceptions of the relevance of academic social research. Data are reported on the relative importance assigned by public officials in state and federal agencies to various sources of expert information. Factors that hinder and facilitate the uptake of external research by policy-related officials are canvassed, with special attention to organisational cultures and practices. Some similarities and differences between types of agencies are noted, especially those between state-level and federal agencies. The broader political context of policy work is also highlighted.
Keyword Research utilisation
Public policy
Research relevance
Public service expertise
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Institute for Social Science Research - Publications
Official 2015 Collection
School of Social Science Publications
 
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 22 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 21 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Sun, 08 Jun 2014, 00:59:45 EST by Professor Brian Head on behalf of ISSR - Research Groups