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Report Commissioned by UNDP Governance

Centre (Oslo)

Nicola Jones, Julia Pomares, Arnaldo Pellini with

Ajoy Dattai

Research and Policy in Development Group

Overseas Development Institute

The importance of governance in promoting development outcomes has become increasingly
recognized over the last two decades. For instance, it is understood that many of the states
least likely to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are ‗fragile‘ states grappling
with significant governance challenges, and that tackling poverty and social exclusion cannot
be done in isolation from addressing governance deficits. Attention among analysts and do-
nors is growing, yet the assessment of evidence-based policy processes is limited. This is in
turn exacerbated by a relative dearth of literature on the knowledge-policy interface in devel-
oping country contexts, and especially post-conflict countries. This paper therefore focuses
on exploring the role of knowledge in advancing effective governance principles and prac-
tices. It pays articular attention to the opportunities and challenges faced by think tanks and
policy institutes to shape an evidence-based political culture in post-conflict environments.
The report is based on a desk review of literature on governance and evidence-based policy
processes, including think tanks as key actors in the process of knowledge generation and
translation. A multi-layered approach to the topic is developed in response to the lack of lit-
erature on evidence-based policy processes in post-conflict contexts. The report begins with
a survey of literature on the role of think tanks in the production and use of governance evi-
dence, identifying main trends and emphasizing findings related to post-conflict settings (sec-
tion 2). It then introduces an analytical framework designed to explore similarities and differ-
ences in the dynamics of research supply and demand across policy sectors (section 3). This
framework is applied specifically to the dynamics of governance evidence, looking at the
governance issues of public administration reforms, decentralization and human rights (sec-
tion 4). Finally, the report summarizes the main lessons and proposes areas for further inves-
tigation (section 5). This report is complemented by a companion synthesis paper about the
production, translation and uptake of knowledge in three diverse post-conflict settings of Ne-
pal, Peru and Serbia.
Think tanks play a key role in shaping policy agendas and in generating and communicating
relevant research findings to policy actors in a timely fashion. There is growing recognition in
the literature of the knowledge-policy interface about their key role. Think tanks are organi-
zations that (1) produce knowledge products which inform decision making on specific policy
issues and (2) seek to influence policy content. This section focuses on the extent to which
think tanks have had an impact on governance agendas. Think tanks have the capacity to
adapt to new and changing political contexts, whilst maintaining research integrity in keeping
with the demands of the political environment. This is a reason for asserting a role for think
tanks in post-conflict societies. In a post-conflict setting it could be hypothesized that re-
search might not receive adequate attention due to the pressing needs requiring government
action. However, some studies show that new governments or polities may show enthusiasm
for the advice of think tanks in order to fill in their ‗knowledge gaps‘ to build their knowledge
capacity. Even so, these governments frequently encounter significant constraints in their
ability to seek or use such advice, with the situation often exacerbated by a lack of baseline
data and less than transparent national statistics offices.
The analysis draws on a framework developed by Pomares and Jones (2008) to understand
knowledge-policy dynamics in different policy sectors and applies it to the governance policy
sector. The framework is organized into two clusters of variables: those related to the char-
acteristics of the policy issue in question, and those features pertaining to the broader policy
The first variable considered is the type and level of technical expertise required to en-
gage in the policy process in a particular sector. As the level of technical expertise increases,
the demand for knowledge increases and so does the leverage of research actors. The re-
port‘s findings suggest that the level of technical expertise required in governance policy



processes is mixed. A low level of technical expertise is required in areas such as public ad-
ministration and reform of civil society participation, which have a plurality of non-
government actors. By contrast a high demand for technical expertise in areas such as fiscal
administration and the rule of law can result in a monopoly of a single discipline and re-
stricted dialogue.
The second variable addressed is the extent to which a policy issue is contested. As the
contestation of the issue increases, knowledge actors face diminished leverage. Governance
reform is mainly about altering the rules of the political game and as such is often highly con-
tested. Donors and other international actors are increasingly cognisant of this dynamic and
whereas the first generation of governance reforms was heavily technocratic in its emphasis,
there is an emerging consensus that ‗politics matters‘ and needs to be factored into the de-
sign of any reform programme. Governance debates in post-conflict societies can also be
highly emotional and knowledge may be used as political ammunition. For example, debates
relating to human rights are often extremely emotive, which hinders the uptake of research
evidence. This dynamic is seen in the politics of knowledge surrounding truth and reconcilia-
tion commissions, the analysis of which to date has lacked a rigorous empirical basis.
The third variable examined is the strength of economic interests. Strong economic in-
terests may dominate policy debates and use their influence over other knowledge and policy
actors. There are strong economic interests involved in fighting corruption, which might ex-
plain the active role of the private sector in fostering the anti-corruption agenda. This often
results in increased demand for knowledge services so as to be able to monitor and evaluate
progress over time. In regards to decentralization issues, competing economic interests re-
side at different levels of government, prompting demand for knowledge from sub-national
policy institutions.
The fourth variable considered is the level of internationalization of a policy issue .
Knowledge actors play a stronger role in policymaking when they are able to coordinate ac-
tions transnationally. Governance reforms have been heavily driven by the international
community, which often contributes to enhanced conditions for coordinated action. Human
rights issues have a high level of international involvement, for example. When a conflict
ends, the international community is eager for evidence-based knowledge to support effec-
tive change. After the initial post-conflict phase, however, international interests are shown
to wane.
The first variable examined is the number and relative strength of actors/issue cham-
pions. A larger and stronger set of issue champions increases prospects for policy change. It
is also linked to the extent of participation and the nature and space of the policy process. In
post-conflict environments, civil society typically needs time to rebuild itself, or create itself
anew, and as a result the strength of those who champion domestic issues tends to be low.
The second variable discussed is the stage in the policy process at which a policy issue is
raised. The role of knowledge and of research utilization is different across stages in the pol-
icy process. Governance issues are generally new topics on the public agenda and as such
they need a lengthy process of legitimization. Knowledge institutions should accordingly gear
their efforts towards the agenda setting phase of the policy process. However, once govern-
ance issues are incorporated into the public agenda, attention should turn to develop knowl-
edge of a problem-solving variety.
The third variable considered is the type of policy change sought. Incremental changes
can be advanced through an instrumental use of research but paradigmatic shifts require
new and challenging policy discourses. Post-conflict settings are excellent institution-building
exercises. As such, a key challenge is to meet the need for policy narratives and ground-
breaking knowledge, which are necessary to underpin a paradigm shift in political practice.
The fourth variable discussed is institutional capacities. Higher institutional capacities on
both sides of the equation (policy and knowledge institutions) increase research uptake. An
interesting paradox emerges in governance reforms, however. Although by nature such re-
forms are long-term processes and require stable institutional capacities from both knowl-
edge actors and policy makers, the main aim of governance reforms is to build stable institu-
tions. In short, the outcomes of governance reform are a pre-requisite to enable it. That is
why the tendency has been to rely upon internationally-generated knowledge production.
However, more recent initiatives have concentrated on increasing domestic research capaci-
ties to ensure the generation of context-specific knowledge.



The dynamics of governance policy in general, and in post-conflict settings in particular, have
a number of specific features that should inform the work of actors engaged in the knowl-
edge-policy interface. These dynamics often play out differently depending on the particular
justice and governance issue under consideration. This is because governance policy issues
encompass both technocratic (e.g. public administration reforms and decentralization) and
normative dimensions (e.g. transitional human rights). The findings of this report highlight
the pressing need for more attention to the supply and demand for governance evidence.
Critical gaps also need to be filled in the understanding of knowledge needs at different
stages in the policy cycle and in the sequencing of the production of evidence. Equally im-
portant is the need for more attention to the relative contributions of different actors in the
processes of knowledge generation and knowledge translation. More attention should be di-
rected to the role of think tanks in the production and communication of policy-relevant and
practical governance evidence, in particular within contexts of contested knowledge and
competition by various economic interests.

List of Acronyms and Abbreviations

ADB Asian Development Cooperation

CSO civil society organizations
DAC Development Assistance Committee
DFID Department for International Development
EBP evidence-based policy
INGOs International Non-Governmental Organizations
NGOs non-governmental organizations
OECD Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
PRI policy research institute
SDC Swiss Development Cooperation
SIDA Swedish International Development Agency
TI Transparency International
TRC Truth and Reconciliation Commission
UNDP United Nations Development Programme
UNESCO United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation
USD United States dollar



This paper was written in response to several country office governance officers and national
counterparts engaged in governance assessments projects requesting some clarity on the
definitions of governance and its relationship to development objectives. The authors would
like to thank OGC colleagues for their comments on earlier versions.

The views expressed in this discussion paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily
represent those of the United Nations, including UNDP, or UN Member States.

United Nations
Development Programme
Oslo Governance Centre
Democratic Governance Group
Bureau for Development Policy

Borggata 2B, Postboks 2881 Tøyen

0608 Oslo, Norway

Phone +47 23 06 08 20
Fax +47 23 06 08 21



After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the principle of ‗good governance‘ came to the forefront and
gained a priority position in the international aid agenda. A decade later, the United Nations Mil-
lennium Declaration consolidated the role of governance as the enabling environment for the
realization of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The Human Development Report
2002 Deepening Democracy in a Fragmented World clearly linked governance and development
by stating that ―from the human development perspective, good governance is democratic go-
vernance‖.ii The emphasis here was not only on making institutions and rules more effective but
also making them more equitable and with fair processes. Emphasis on the promotion of gov-
ernance has been growing, resulting in a sharp boost in its share within the international aid
portfolio as well as a proliferation of efforts to measure and assess advances in good govern-
ance (see discussion below).iii
There is a call for evidence-based guidance for good governance. But who is using this knowl-
edge and to what end? There has been very limited discussion on the impact or uptake
of governance evidence. The use of a wide array of governance indicators could be seen as
a reflection of what Weiss (1979, p. 429) refers to as the ‗enlightenment use‘ of governance
evidence, i.e. the process whereby social science research percolates through informed politics
and contributes to shape understanding of those in decision-making positions through a trickle
down process. Ultimately, however, there is a significant lack of analysis of the ´instrumental
use´ of governance evidence, whether that analysis pertains to agenda-setting, shifts in beha-
vior, or achieving policy and legislative changes.
The literature on evidence-based policy has primarily focused on developed country
contexts and only recently broadened to include opportunities and challenges in developing
countries (Court, Hovland et al. 2005).iv Work undertaken on developing countries has tended
to focus on contexts with more established democratic traditions (e.g. India and the Southern
Cone of South America) and/or developmental states (e.g. Indonesia, South Africa, Viet Nam).
It also has prioritized some policy sectors, mainly education and health, to the detriment of
newer areas such as environmental policy and justice reform. On top of this, there is a general
lack of analysis of evidence-based policy for post-conflict and fragile state environ-
ments, despite the fact that addressing governance challenges is undoubtedly of paramount
concern in these parts of the world. Among the countries most off-track in terms of accomplish-
ing the Millennium Development Goals, approximately two thirds of them are fragile or post-
conflict contexts, as noted in a new White Paper by the UK Department for International Devel-
opment.v Post-conflict states encounter particular challenges such as rebuilding legitimacy of
the state and citizen-state relations (often attempted through new institutional design such as
greater decentralization or federal arrangements); the reestablishment of security; and rebuild-
ing effective service delivery, including access to justice (Brinkerhoff 2005).
Against this background, the aim of this paper is to explore the role of knowledge in ad-
vancing better governance principles and practices, especially in post-conflict set-
tings. The focus is on the contributions of think tanks and policy institutes, which are a specific
type of knowledge producer, and the identification of prospects for establishing partnerships
with think tanks in developing countries in order to promote better-informed governance poli-
cies in post-conflict environments. This is done using a multi-layered approach, as described in
diagram 1.




The role of think

tanks in
governance issues

Partnerships with
think tanks in post-
SECTION 4 conflict settings to SECTION 3
promote evidence-
governance reforms EBP in
Governance governance policy
evidence in post-
conflict comparative
environments lenses
(Section 3)

Diagram I: A multi-layered approach to the topic

The following four sections of this report are divided as follows:

- Section 2 looks at the role of think tanks in advancing governance reforms by creating evi-
dence and knowledge;

- Section 3 looks at the variables affecting how evidence/knowledge may influence the policy
process in the governance sector;

- Section 4 focuses on the supply and demand for evidence and knowledge on governance
particularly in post conflict countries;

- Section 5 pieces together the findings and summarizes the main lessons on how to create
partnerships with think tanks to promote democratic governance in post-conflict settings. It
also presents areas for further investigation

Findings from three case studies related to the topic of this report are recommended reading.
Post-conflict governance issues in Nepal, Peru and Serbia are presented in the case studies, and
a second companion paper synthesizes the results (Jones and Pellini 2009).


Think tanks play a key role in shaping policy agendas and in generating and communicating
policy-relevant research findings to policy actors in a timely fashion. Literature on the knowl-
edge-policy interface increasingly recognizes their important role. Although the literature has
been dominated by an analysis of think tanks in the United States (McGann 2007) and to a
lesser extent other OECD countries, more recently there has been growing attention to the
emergence of think tanks in developing country contexts (Garcé and Uña 2007). The focus,
however, has been primarily on the origins of think tanks and the challenges they face; too little
attention has been paid to their impact on specific policy agendas. Sub-section 2.1 offers a brief
overview of the literature on the role of think tanks in the policy process, with a specific focus
on post-conflict settings. Subsection 2.2 looks at the linkages between think tanks and govern-
ance issues.



2.1. Think Tanks and the Policy Process

2.1.1. Definitions and Roles of Think Tanks

There have been several attempts to define and classify think tanks (Smith 1991; Abelson
2002; McGann and Johnson 2005; Garcé and Uña 2007). Some authors focus on their politico-
institutional location, e.g. whether they are party affiliated, embedded within the state or
emerged from the civil society. Others put emphasis on their main functions, e.g. research, pol-
icy advice or advocacy. There is an emerging consensus, however, about the challenges inher-
ent in defining think tanks. Many think tanks do not fit neatly into particular categories but
share attributes of several types of organizations such as interest groups, consultancy firms and
university institutes, which results in a ‗hybridization of think tank styles‘ (Stone 2007). For the
purpose of this synthesis paper, think tanks are defined as organizations that (1) produce
knowledge products that inform decision making on specific policy issues at various levels of
policy making, and (2) seek to influence policy content. This definition includes policy research
centres associated with academic institutions, research-oriented non-governmental organiza-
tions (NGOs), and party and state-affiliated institutes. This suggests a significant departure
from definitions based on their structural organization, which emphasized their non-profit,
non-governmental independent status, and a shift towards focussing on their functions, which
include knowledge generation and translation activities.

The study of the role in policy making played by think tanks and policy institutes is a well-
established field in the United States, where scholars recently have begun to take a compara-
tive approach (Abelson 2000). In non-OECD countries, the field is in an early stage and most
studies are still of a more descriptive type. In a forthcoming study on think tanks and political
parties in Latin America, Mendizabal (2009) argues that think tanks serve a number of key
roles, where political institutions are often weak in a post-authoritarian context. For example,
think tanks may provide a forum for political debate and deliberation, legitimate policy propos-
als put forth by political parties or factions, and channel funding to support particular political
positions. In the same vein, studies on think tanks in South America show that they tend to be
unstable because their existence is part of the survival strategy of some political leaders (Garcé
2006; Garcé 2007).

2.1.2. Think Tanks in Post-Conflict Settings

The work of think tanks in post-conflict settings is shaped by a socio-political environment asso-
ciated with the (re)emergence of political democracy across many parts of the world and the in-
creasing recognition of the importance of civil society in promoting democratic consolidation
and good governance (Tembo 2007). Specific features of the socio-political environment in
which think thanks operate in these settings can be identified. One such feature is that re-
search might not receive adequate attention from policy makers in post-conflict set-
tings, due to the pressing needs to be addressed by governments. However, some studies show
that new governments or polities may show enthusiasm for the advice of think tanks in order to
fill in their ‗knowledge gap‘ to build their knowledge capacity (Kao, 2000). The findings from the
case studies conducted as part of this project (Jones and Pellini 2009) confirm that the demand
for knowledge has not come from local governmental spheres but from the international com-

Another feature of the post-conflict environment is the lack of focus on institution building,
which limits the prospects for the emergence of sustainable research institutions, as shown in
evaluations of some efforts of international aid in supporting think tanks in post-conflict coun-
tries (de Zeeuw 2005). There has been more interest in producing high output (e.g. funding
short-term activities such as workshops or media training) that only have moderate impact in
the medium term, as compared to longer-term activities. When turning to pre-existing research
institutes, it is important to consider the capacity for policy institutes to adapt to the new



political context. A key organizational challenge existing think tanks must undertake is to
shift away from conducting research either in support of or critical to government towards the
development of a research agenda in keeping with the demands of the post-conflict political
environment (Shifter 2000).

2.1.3. Think Tanks Impact

How to assess the impact of think tanks is a contested question. If several actors play a role in
the policy process, how is the impact of think tanks and policy institutes to be assessed (and
isolated from the leverage of other actors)? A variety of measures have been developed for that
purpose such as media citations and appearances, participation in legislative forums, and the
amount and dissemination of published work. The bulk of work focuses on US think tanks spe-
cialized in economic and defence issues, which are part of the first and second waves of think
tanks.vi More recently, the comparative agenda has offered new insights into this question. For
example, the work by Stone (2000) on the role of think tanks in the transfer of privatization pol-
icy in Australia, the UK and the US provides an interesting perspective by pointing to the impact
of policy institutes on spreading ideas across nations. There is no doubt today that think tanks
can be effective vehicles for the dissemination of policies as diverse as privatization, anti-
corruption strategies and constitutional reform (Stone 2005).

Interest in the impact of think tanks in developing countries has emerged in the past
decade. A comparative study of 18 policy research institutes (PRI) in developing countries in Af-
rica, Asia and Latin America explains their success in exerting an influence over the policy
process (Braun, Chudnovsky et al. 2007). The study concludes that what these PRI have in
common is a mix of endogenous and exogenous factors. Endogenous factors include flexible
leaderships, diversified funding and high-quality research. There are also some factors related
to the context in which they operate, including the existence of political demand for research,
openness to civil societies and windows of opportunity. Because this study focuses on several
policy issues, it is difficult to know whether some of the findings have to do with the type of
policy issue at work. Focusing on one specific issue, that of trade negotiations, an analysis of
think tanks in Argentina, Brazil and Chile (Botto 2007) identifies more similarities than differ-
ences in the impact of think tanks in the southernmost areas of South America. The think tanks
share strong similarities in regards to their impact, although the links between think tanks and
policy-makers are different in the three countries (i.e. linkages in Argentina and Chile are of the
‗revolving door‘ type while in Brazil there is more separation between the two spheres). Their
main input consists of legitimating pre-existent positions of governments but they are less able
to propose new policy horizons. Another study on Latin America (Garcé 2006) points to some
shared shortcomings such as their difficulties in achieving timeliness and practical applicability.
Indeed, literature on think tanks in established democracies has shown that the framing and
presentation of research findings and the techniques employed for ‗translating‘ research into
policy are key drivers of research uptake (MacIennan and More 1999; Kirst 2000; Crewe 2002;
Landry, Lamari et al. 2003).

2.2. Think Tank Involvement in Governance Issues

As already mentioned, studies on think tank impact have mainly focused on economic issues
and there is little attention to the role of policy institutes in promoting the use of governance
evidence. The role of NGOs and think tanks in regards to two governance issues -human rights
and democracy promotion- is the focus of several isolated studies. Most works are found on the
topic of transnational advocacy by international NGOs. A series of studies focuses on transna-
tional advocacy (Keck and Sikkink 1998) and the extent to which human rights advocacy or-
ganizations are affecting change on the ground through ‗information politics‘. Transnational
NGOs enjoy strong public reputations as experts providing vital information on pressing issues,
yet there is scant empirical evidence about their specific impact. In one example of such re-



search, the findings are interesting. The study looks at the patterns of country reporting of
human rights abuse by international organizations. It finds that reporting, although based on
human rights conditions, is very strategic: reporting focuses on selected countries to maximize
advocacy opportunities, shape international standards, promote greater awareness, and raise a
country‘s profile (Ron, Ramos et al. 2005).vii However, it is also said that the impact of human
rights monitoring by international NGOs can be relatively short-lived and that the effect is
strongest when their efforts are combined with those levelled by local NGOs, religious groups
and foreign governments (Franklin 2008).

Turning to the production and dissemination of evidence used in democracy promotion,

there are some investigations into the relative effectiveness of political foundations. Political
foundations and think tanks working the field of democracy promotion fall into four broad cate-
gories: grant-making, funding and engaging in research and analysis of democratization, the
development and facilitation of interaction among democracy-oriented groups, and capacity
building of political parties and civil society organizations (CSOs) to establish and conduct elec-
tions and other democracy promoting actions (Scott 1999). The most significant consequence
of all these activities is the ‗transnational norm-building‘ that follows the activities of the net-
work in which political foundations and think-tanks play a part. An interesting study looks at the
effectiveness of foundation-funded democracy assistance programs in Central Europe over the
five years post-1989 (Quigley 1997). Based on four countries (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland
and Slovakia), it shows that active foundations in Central Europe contributed to democracy
promotion in three ways: (1) ―by simply being there‖ (i.e. psychological support for resistance
to lingering antidemocratic tendencies); (2) by focusing on substantive issues important to de-
mocratization and introducing new issues into the public agenda (such as environmental is-
sues); and (3) by narrowly extending the circle of participants in the political and policy-making
processes. On the down side, it is argued that foundations widened the ‗expectation gap‘ by
over-promising, continuing to fund projects rather than catalytic aid, placing insufficient empha-
sis on sustainability, and viewing civil society in a vacuum without recognizing civil society‘s
connections to state and market forces.

While there are few empirical studies, several analysts provide entry points into the topic of
think tanks based in post-conflict countries and governance issues. A survey of think
tanks in Bosnia concludes that these newly formed organizations, which in several cases spe-
cialized in governance issues, have not succeeded in influencing policy (Struyk and Miller 2004).
The study was based on interviews with government officials and think tank staff conducted in
2003. When uptake did take place, it was indirectly, by disseminating research findings and
ideas through members of the international community. A further round of interviews con-
ducted in 2006, showed, however, substantial positive development in the policy development
process in Bosnia and Herzegovina over the 2003–2006 period (Struyk, Kohagenz et al. 2007).
The authors call for the international community to foster domestic research institutions by not
relying solely on international research firms.

The quest for increasing research capacities of knowledge producers has been recognized as a
key pre-requisite for research uptake. The international-led Metagora project (more on this ini-
tiative in section 4), developed a large statistical record of human rights violations in Sri Lanka.
One of the main objectives was to support the reporting and advocacy work of civil society or-
ganizations by increasing their capacity to produce robust data and to apply statistical analysis
to policy-oriented assessments of human rights issues. One of the factors that led to the suc-
cessful implementation of this enterprise was the partnership with a domestic institution, the
Department of Statistics at Sri Lanka‘s University of Colombo.




Does the use of research depend on the nature of the policy sector in which evidence-based
policy influencing is attempted? The question is rarely examined. Empirical studies on research-
policy links are almost exclusively based on case studies, and they lack systematic comparisons
of the relationship between knowledge and power across policy sectors. The few exceptions viii
point to some factors that are important across different types of policy issues, such as the in-
tensity of the links between scholars and users, and tailored dissemination efforts. However,
they also point to some particularities in the relationship between knowledge and policy that are
linked to the type of policy issue under analysis. It is therefore important to look at a variety of
policy sectors when attempting to examine research influence in policy-making; only then can
one determine if the relationship is policy sector-specific, and if there is special reference to
governance issues. Section 3 offers an analysis based on a framework developed by Pomares
and Jones (Forthcoming). Is the relationship between knowledge and policy in governance is-
sues different from or similar to other policy sectors and issues (e.g. education), and if so in
which ways? The framework is organized into two clusters of variables: those related to the
policy issue in question and those dealing with the policy process in which think tanks and
other knowledge actors operate (refer to Glossary for definitions and see diagram 2).

Variables of policy issue Variables of policy

• Type and level of
technical expertise • Number and strength of
• Level of contestation issue champions
• Strength of economic • Stage of the policy
interests process
• Level of • Policy change objective
internationalisation sought
• Institutional capacities

Diagram II: Governance policy in comparative

Because the governance agenda is quite broad, whenever possible, three specific issues of the
governance agenda are identified: decentralization, human rights and anti-corruption. These
three issues capture both the technocratic and normative dimensions of governance. In addi-
tion, hypotheses derived from the framework are applied to the specific context of a post-
conflict environment.



3.1 Policy Issue Variables

3.1.1. Type and level of technical expertise of policy issue

The technical complexity of a policy issue and the hierarchies of knowledge involved play impor-
tant roles in shaping the knowledge-policy interface.

First, the need for specialized expertise increases demand for knowledge from policy makers,
who call for policy advice from ‗experts'. This is why thinks tanks to date have often focused on
technical issues such as economic and foreign policy (Abelson 2000). The downside is that a
high level of technicality may discourage some actors from becoming involved in policy dialogue
(Newell and Tussie 2006); this usually means that smaller networks of actors are involved
(Howlett and Ramesh 1998).

Second, in highly technical policy areas, technical arguments play a key role in depoliticizing the
public debate, and policy makers often use technical arguments as a strategy to advance their
policy positions. Claims made on the basis of highly technical data are presented as ‗objective
evidence‘ and are claimed to be difficult to contest.

Third, technical expertise often entails the monopoly of a single profession and, hence, the logic
of that profession‘s scientific discipline has an impact on the way knowledge and politics inter-
act. A comparative study of four Latin American countries (Dezalay and Bryant 2002) shows
how two key knowledge actors – lawyers and economists – compete for attention from policy
makers about what strategies are best for tackling the challenges of democratization.

An analysis of several anti-corruption reforms in Latin America (Faundez 2005) confirms that
the specificity of these initiatives has resulted in a monopoly of lawyers and shows the draw-
backs of a lack of dialogue between academic disciplines. A pernicious consequence has been
equating the rule of law to judicial reform (Carothers 2003). Knowledge production emerging
mainly from legal specialists resulted in a strong over-emphasis of the legal aspects of the re-
form. More recently, rule of law issues have attracted the attention of other disciplines such as
sociology and political science. Faundez (2005) argues that a lack of dialogue between lawyers
and political scientists about diagnosis and policy instruments plays an important role in explain-
ing the overall disappointment with the performance of internationally-led rule of law pro-
grammes and he advocates for a more multidisciplinary approach.

Lower levels of technicality would encourage a plurality of actors to engage in policy dialogue.
This is arguably the case with human rights, which have been advocated by a large mosaic of
NGOs. At the same time, within a less technically-demanding environment there is lower de-
mand from policy-makers for the authoritative role of knowledge and expertise. One could ex-
pect less interest among political actors in seeking out scientific knowledge, with little emphasis,
for example, on commissioning research to investigate new policy problems.

A final remark pertains to the authoritative role of knowledge in post-conflict situations.

Knowledge producers whose intellectual power was used to legitimate the policies of authoritar-
ian regimes or to support political conflict may face difficulties in being rehabilitated into the
new democratic milieu. The technical reputation of intellectuals cannot be disentangled from
their role in previous authoritarian regimes.

3.1.2. Level and Extent of Issue Contestation

Another variable is the level and extent to which a policy issue is contested. Weiss observes
that ―When issues are highly emotional or, when contending interests have staked out non-
negotiable stands, opportunities are small for evaluation to matter‖(Weiss 1999, 481-482). In
this scenario, governmental influence on research becomes more visible. Knowledge actors
might explicitly deliver ‗knowledge as political ammunition‘ (Lindblom 1968 quoted in Timmer-
mans and Scholten 2006). Migration policy in Australia provides an example of links between



shifts in Australia‘s politics of nation formation (and the role played by immigration) and the
demise of some types of research and knowledge brought about by the closure of the govern-
ment-funded Bureau of Immigration Research (Fincher 2001). Similarly, in recent American de-
bates on health policy, the contentious nature of stem cell research in the Bush administration
(Lambright 2008) has reinvigorated discussions about how governments seek to influence sci-
entific production, and how in this case competing influences of science and religion play a role
in shaping policy agenda.

Turning to governance issues, several topics in the reform agenda involve altering the rules
of the political game and as such are often quite contested. Consider the decision to decen-
tralize a social service to the local or provincial level. In this scenario, political interests play a
key role in the design and implementation of reforms (Peters 1997), which might explain the
scant attention paid to research production (See box 1). Governance issues related to human
rights (especially in post-conflict environments) are also highly emotional, and political actors
might seek a legitimating function for knowledge. In Sri Lanka, a project to enhance the statis-
tical records of human rights organizations (part of the Metagora Project) found that decisions
on the timing and form of release of findings must be taken with a high sense of responsibility
and rigour. The problems caused by delivering statistical results that are not fully reliable are
much more important in this post-conflict context than in a more politically stable environment.
A final example of contested governance issues involves the role of evidence in the work of
truth and reconciliation committees or commissions.Chapman and Ball describe the challenge of
creating an authoritative account of a contested past, being complex to get beyond collecting
anecdotal evidence:

―(…), the documentation and interpretation of truth is more complex and ambiguous
than many analysts and proponents of truth commissions assume. Social, technical,
and methodological constraints, as well as epistemological limitations of what can be
known, all affect a commission's ability to produce an authoritative account. Develop-
ing an official authoritative account of a contested past, and especially doing so in an
objective and careful manner consistent with strict standards of historical and social
science research, requires far more than accumulating anecdotal evidence to support
widely held beliefs about what has happened and who is responsible.‖ (Chapman and
Ball 2001, p. 3)

The South African Truth and Reconciliation Committee, for example, received some negative
criticism saying that the methods used were flawed as a consequence of telling ‗only half of the
story‘ and because the Committee relied on evidence that was not objective (Jeffery 2000).
Chapman and Ball‘s observation suggests that such efforts to document truth encounter major

Box 1: Consequences of the political nature of governance reforms for research


Highly contested policy issues are often less susceptible to research influence. This is argua-
bly the case of most governance issues that involve reforming the rules of the political game.
Regarding administrative reforms, their in-house nature provides insulation from outside in-
fluences, as Peters states: ―these [reforms] occur within government itself and might be ex-
pected to be less influenced by other pressures, for example, professional groups concerned
with fostering alleged 'best practice' in a particular policy area‖ (Peters 1997, p. 76). This hy-
pothesis is confirmed by a study on the role of think thanks and policy institutes in the de-
centralization process enacted by Greek constitutional reform in 2001 (Ladi 2005). It shows
that ―policy-oriented learning was limited because the nature of the question was political
and not technical and focuses on the distribution of power between central and regional gov-
ernment. There was no need for a search for ‗best practice‘ at this stage of the policy proc-
ess.‖ (Ladi 2005, p.291)



The first wave of governance reforms supported by international aid overlooked the political
nature of these efforts and focused largely on technocratic aspects. However, evaluation re-
sults show that this has been an ineffective strategy, especially in regards to anti-
corruption campaigns (Chandler 2002; Bowornwathana 2000). As a consequence, most do-
nors now acknowledge the importance of politics. There is a clear consensus about how ―poli-
tics matters‖. This is highlighted in the Inter-American Development Bank‘s strategy of mod-
ernization of state programmes, which emphasizes as a lesson learnt to ―conceive moderniza-
tion of the state operations as a process of political reform‖ (IADB 2003, p. 7, emphasis

3.1.3. Strength of Economic Interests

In some policy sectors, economic interests exert a strong influence on think tanks and other
knowledge producers. This is highly noticeable in policy areas with strong implications for the
economy such as trade or agricultural policy. For example, the strong role of large private sec-
tor players in trade policy makes the involvement of NGO actors more complicated, according to
an analysis of citizen participation in trade policy in Latin America (Newell and Tussie 2006, p.
15): ―The policy-making process on a ‗high-politics‘ issue such as trade has tended to be much
more secretive and less accessible to non-state actors, particularly those with fewer established
ties and points of access to the ministries involved.‖ . A study of shrimp trade in developing
countries (Bené 2005) shows the key role played by economic interests in creating and dis-
seminating policy discourses. It examines how disagreement in the academic community about
the impact of shrimp farming on the environment was inextricably intertwined with economic in-
terests. The influence of the private sector in shaping think tanks and other knowledge produc-
ers is also apparent in post-conflict settings, where the academic community often exerts
less influence than normal because it tends to be highly fragmented in the first years of transi-
tion. An analysis of the role of think tanks in post-Apartheid South Africa shows that the grow-
ing power and influence of South Africa‘s corporate conglomerates over the direction of eco-
nomic policy in the mid 1980s paved the way for the rise of some think tanks to the detriment
of others (Padayachee and Sherbut 2007).

Economic interests also play a role in the realm of social policy. For example, they can be a key
variable in health policy as shown by a case study on childhood obesity in Australia (Nathan,
Develin et al. 2005). Because some of the policy options to tackle the problem could affect the
private sector (i.e. regulation of food advertising targeted at children), representatives from
food and advertising industries engaged in policy debates. They opposed controls on food ad-
vertising by pointing to a lack of scientific evidence linking food advertising with obesity. In
short, although more present in some policy areas than others, economic actors actively engage
in research-policy dialogues when their interests are under scrutiny.

Economic interests play an important role in governance issues. Economic interests helped to
establish trade openness as a central criteria for judging good governance, and also raised anti-
corruption as a priority over other governance issues (Hout 2004). This often results in in-
creased demand for knowledge services. However, the prominence given to perceptions of
businessmen in governance indicators has been the subject of recent criticism. Kurtz and
Schrank (2007) argue this method requires ―the assumption that the interests of investors (for-
eign and domestic) and the interests of the nation are essentially coterminous.‖ They warn of
potential bias, saying ―this is an exceedingly selective notion of state capacity, and efforts at
measurement that hinge on surveys of businesspersons are thus likely to contain substantial bi-

The body of literature on the role of the private sector in funding think tanks is not well-
established but offers an interesting example. A comparison of think tank development in Tai-



wan and Hong Kong (Yep and Ngok 2006) shows a strong connection between think tanks and
business: ―Rapid political liberalisation in Taiwan has led to a proliferation of think tanks, with
strong backing from the business sector. In contrast, abortive democratisation in Hong Kong
has led to continued protection of business political privilege. The monopoly of the policy-
making power in the hands of the bureaucratic polity, with few alternative venues of power,
had made the business sector in Hong Kong reluctant to finance think tanks.‖

3.1.4. Level of Internationalization of Policy Issues

Issues that cross the international and domestic domain are termed ‗intermestic issues‘ (Held
2004, p. 389). Such issues involve transnational and international governance. Held writes
about a shift to a more global perspective in policy issues: ―Global politics is anchored today not
just in traditional geopolitical concerns – trade, power, security – but in a large diversity of so-
cial and ecological questions‖ (Held 2004, p. 366). It is apparent from the literature, however,
that some policy issues are more globalized than others and that the relationship between
knowledge and policy differs along this dimension.

When an intermestic issue is at stake, networks of professionals with recognized knowledge and
skill in a particular issue, known as epistemic communities, often develop across countries,
along with and transnational advocacy networks.ix In such cases, knowledge might be particu-
larly successful in influencing policy when coordination among transnational actors is achieved.
This has been the case in particular for citizenship policies, according to the literature (Newell
and Tussie 2006). Transnational actors have been of chief importance in diffusing policy on
gender mainstreamingx across countries (True and Mintrom 2001; Franceschet 2003). When is-
sues are as international as poverty reduction, the international donor community significantly
affects the type and strength of actor networks. In Ethiopia, donors succeeded in building
strong actor networks around environmental policy discourses by mobilizing internationally-
credible scientific expertise (Keeley and Scoones 2000).

While issues crossing international and domestic lines are often subject to international influ-
ences, domestic issues are different. For domestic issues, national governments may play a
stronger role in shaping policy vis-a-vis research institutions. In some policy areas, their promi-
nent role in funding research shapes the academic agenda. According to studies on educational
policy in the UK and USxi, the role of the national government is very strong in driving research

Governance reforms have been heavily driven by the international community, mainly by aid
agencies from OECD countries and international financial institutions. Experience in the field of
governance reforms shows an unintended consequence of the internationalization of knowledge
actors: the lack of ownership by domestic actors. For example, domestic actors rarely use gov-
ernance indicators, according to several studies (see for example Arndt and Oman 2006). This
consequence, which has been recently acknowledged in the literature, is not found in other pol-
icy sectors. The UNDP Global Programme on Democratic Governance Assessments aims to en-
hance national ownership and uptake into policy.

3.2 Policy Process Variables

The section above addressed the part played by variables such as technical expertise, economic
interests and whether an issue is contested or engages international actors. Certain character-
istics of the policy process further shape the dynamics of the knowledge-policy nexus. When
aiming for research uptake, think tanks and policy research institutes need to take into account
several features of the process through which policy is made. This section seeks to identify
those features and thereby to identify whether governance issues are similar or different from
other policy issues.



3.2.1 Number, Density and Strength of Issue Champions

In a policy discussion, important variables include the number of actors/ issue champions
involved, and their effectiveness in advocating or defending an issue. A study of policy sectors
in Canada (i.e. transport, trade, banking and education) found that changes in policy goals and
programme specifications occurred in only two of the four issues; the two which had substantial
growth of actors. The number of actors should not be isolated from the effectiveness of those
actors. The effectiveness of women‘s organizations is said to be related to the density of net-
works in multiple sites and levels (True and Mintrom 2001). In some types of policy issues, ef-
fectiveness has to do with coordination. For example, organizations advocating for children‘s
rights and well-being are comparatively fewer in number and less well coordinated than
women‘s organizations (Jones and Sumner 2008).

Are governance issues populated by a large and dense array of issue champions? Section 4
notes that knowledge actors specialized in governance issues are still beginning to come into
being. In most post-conflict societies, it will take some time for civil society organizations to
rebuild following a period of repression or even to be built up for the first time. In this setting,
the relative strength and density of domestic issue champions is likely to be low and so the
prospects for research uptake.

3.2.2 Stage of the Policy Process

At the initial stages of the policy process, the goal of actors is to try to secure a consensus
about problem definition; at later stages when consensus has been reached, the focus is pri-
marily about what to do and how to do it.

Think tanks and research institutes appear to be successful in raising an issue on the policy
agenda through innovative thinking and the presentation of systematic evidence at the agenda
setting stage. For example, the Australian case study on obesity policies previously mentioned
shows that the research community successfully situated obesity in the public agenda by hig-
hlighting the magnitude of the problem. It was less successful, however, in influencing policy
options to tackle the problem— due to counter efforts by powerful economic interests (Nathan,
Develin et al. 2005). The role of knowledge brokers is particularly important at this stage.
‗Knowledge brokers‘ move back and forth between academics and policy makers, speaking both
languages. They can translate academic findings into policy-relevant products and can also
generate research agendas in line with policy needs. Early interaction between knowledge pro-
ducers and users facilitates trust (MacIennan and More 1999) and paves the way for better dis-
semination of research findings once research production is completed (Balthasar and Rieder
2000). At this stage of the policy process, there is a difference between policy sectors. In less-
established policy domains or new issues, such as climate change, it is necessary to have a
problem recognized as an issue worthy of policy attention; agenda-setting is a pre-condition for
any discussion on policy options or instruments. This is also the case of several governance
issues new to the public agenda. Freedom of information has become an important topic for
civil society organizations, but has not yet reached public discussion in many newly democra-
tized contexts. The human rights agenda has also demanded a complex and lengthy process
of raising awareness. Agenda-setting is also the first stage of governance policy in post-conflict

The second conceptual stage of the policy process, the policy formulation stage, is the polit-
ical moment in which elected politicians define the intended policy. Knowledge at this point is
important but it competes with a range of actors with potential to shape policy decisions, such
as organized economic and political interests, among others. ‗Public opinion‘ (the voices of ordi-
nary citizens captured by surveys) may play a key role in shaping policy preferences. In gover-
nance issues that involve highly political interests (e.g. public administration reforms or de-
centralization), this is the main phase of discussion. It often takes place behind closed doors
and think tanks may find it difficult to attract attention from political actors.



In the implementation stage of the policy process, knowledge can be used successfully in
shaping policy. At the implementation stage, research utilization is of the problem-solving varie-
ty: when a problem has been identified and the outcomes of a policy are formulated, scientific
knowledge can shed light on the best strategy to deal with it. Although knowledge plays a role
in several stages of the policy process, it is at this point where systematic evidence can be in-
fluential in determining the best tools and measuring unintended consequences. In post-
conflict settings, there is a pressing need for moving from agenda-setting to the implementa-
tion stage in order to gain confidence from the citizenry.

Knowledge appears to be less influential at the evaluation stage than at other stages of the
policy process. This aspect is less explored in the literature although some clues can be found
about why this is the case. Some studies point to mismatched timeframes of researchers and
policy makers as one reason why policy makers are not endorsing policy evaluation; an evalua-
tion often takes more time than that available to policy makers (Spangaro 2007). Other studies
note the limited level of engagement between evaluators and policy makers, which hinders the
uptake of evaluation findings, irrespective of their rigor (Jones, Jones et al. 2008). Following
Weiss‘ analysis of the four ‗I‘s‘ that compete for policy influence (interests, ideologies, prior in-
formation and institutions), it is important to bear in mind that policy actors face few incentives
to see their performance evaluated. However, there is a growing role for research institutions in
policy evaluation initiatives.

3.2.3 Policy Change Objective

An important feature of the policy process has to do with the type of change sought through
engagement by the policy process. A distinction can be drawn between policies seeking incre-
mental changes versus those that entail shifts of paradigms or changes in behaviour (Howlett
and Ramesh 1998). The role of knowledge is different in the two scenarios, the literature
shows, and this factor seems to be similar across policy sectors. Paradigm shifts require an en-
compassing role of knowledge involving the creation of new policy narratives. There are several
policy junctures when the status quo is not an option any more and there is a window of oppor-
tunity for knowledge to advance new and challenging policy discourses (Tarrow 1994). Whether
new policy ideas will be implemented is less certain (Mortimore and Tiffen 2004). When re-
search findings challenge an existing paradigm, they raise a more lively debate and increase at-
tention to the problem. However, hot debate over an issue might not always lead to change,
which usually involves more complex and long-term reforms.

Changes in patterns of governance imply a modification of institutions, routines and actors‘

perceptions about processes. The knowledge involved in understanding the required changes is
qualitatively distinct from processes of incremental change. Post-conflict settings are excel-
lent institution- building exercises requiring changes in philosophical or theoretical frameworks
(paradigms) to remove firmly entrenched authoritarian values. These scenarios trigger investi-
gation and call for new ideas and theoretical frameworks to respond to them. Hence, actors
promoting governance changes should be aware of the importance of creating new policy nar-
ratives and the key role played by ground-breaking knowledge in building institutions from
scratch. Paradigm change can vary in tempo, being either gradual or rapid, but in post-conflict
countries rapid change to secure citizen confidence is most often called for. This suggests meta-
policy discourse needs to be combined with practical knowledge and problem-solving skills.

3.2.4 Institutional capacities

The case can be made that the higher the level of institutional capacities of both research and
policy organizations, the more likely research uptake will take place. The literature on estab-
lished democracies clearly demonstrates that when research institutions enjoy relatively high
capacities, they increase their leverage vis-a-vis policy actors. For example, a case study about
the UK Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (Owens and Rayner 1999) shows that the



Commission became a keyplayer in framing environmental issues by gaining reputation over

time and that this credibility was a crucial factor of its policy influence. By contrast, research
capacities in developing countries are unstable, as reflected in the dependence of research insti-
tutions on international support or their country‘s limited government funding. In these cases,
building regional research networks such as those found in Africa can be a suitable arrange-
ment to strengthen research capacities (Soderbaum 2001).

The capacity of governmental institutions to demand, critically assess and utilize knowledge in
policy decision making is also of chief importance. In established democracies, higher institu-
tional capacities mean that knowledge actors can be more effective in influencing policy
through links with bureaucrats. In these contexts, knowledge brokers can sustain long-term re-
lationships and be located on both sides of the knowledge-policy interface, in research institu-
tions such as think tanks (Kirst 2000) and in government spheres (Gorissen 2005). By contrast,
in developing countries, weaker regulation of the private sector can lead to stronger influence
of economic interests on research and policy. In addition, the experience of Southeast Asian
think tanks shows that high capacities on the side of policy making institutions can also lead to
an unbalanced relationship with knowledge actors. As shown by Stone (2005), ―the strength of
bureaucracies has implications for the structure and operation of think tanks. It is not unusual
for think tanks to be created by governments as an extra-bureaucratic arm of government. (…)
In short, most Southeast Asian think tanks have some form of bureaucratic entrée or official pa-

Does this feature of the policy process vary across sectors? The literature offers little insight. It
could be hypothesized that there is a difference across sectors: highly technical issues enjoy
higher institutional capacities. However, when turning to institutional capacities involved in
governance issues, an interesting paradox emerges. Governance reforms are long-term
processes and require stable institutional capacities from both knowledge actors and policy
makers. The main aim of governance reforms is to build stable institutions, indicating a critical
tension between the outcomes of governance reform and the conditions to enable it. As Robin-
son (2007, p. 545) has argued: ―successful governance reforms require high-calibre technical
leadership, but the acquisition of the necessary skills and resources can take time and may re-
quire external support.‖ In the case of a post-conflict environment, this problem is even
more acute as not only policy institutions but also knowledge institutions require a long process
of rebuilding intellectual capacity.



This section explores the particularities of research uptake in governance issues. It considers
both sides of the equation: the supply of evidence by knowledge actors and its demand from
policy makers. Supply of governance evidence is understood as ‗research generation‘. Uptake of
governance evidence into policy reform may be seen as a proxy for demand; the term used is
‗research uptake‘. Section 4.1 focuses on a specific characteristic of research uptake in govern-
ance policy that has to do with weak demand on behalf of policy makers and an externally-
driven supply. Section 4.2 refers to specific attributes of governance evidence in post-conflict

4.1 Trends in Research Generation and Uptake

4.1.1 The Supply Side

The burgeoning interest in governance issues has brought with it the need to make the concept
operational for policy decision-making purposes. This has led to an explosive growth in the de-
sign of governance indicators by international investors and both national and multilateral



official OECD development cooperation agencies (Arndt and Oman 2006). However, there is a
growing methodological critique of such indicators, scrutinizing whether they are indeed mea-
suring what they aim to measure. Critics also point to bias in the sources chosen and their acrit-
ical use in cross-national econometric studies (see box 2).

Box 2: Potential misunderstanding of governance evidence: research on corruption

and gender
The development and dissemination of governance evidence on corruption has attracted con-
siderable attention, spearheaded by international organizations such as Transparency Interna-
tional. Evidence generated has focused on the diagnosis of corruption risks such as the weak-
nesses of government institutions in enforcing the rule of law, a generalized culture of secrecy,
lack of effective internal control mechanisms within government institutions, a lack of citizen
anti-corruption awareness, and the production of standardized corruption perception indices.
The latter have tended to generate considerable public attention, especially because of threats
to foreign direct investment in contexts with high levels of reported corruption.

Such evidence is subject to considerable misuse as highlighted for instance in the work by
Anne-Marie Goetz (2007) on gender and corruption. Goetz calls into question the popular myth
that women are less ‗corruptible‘ and challenges the causality behind cited statistical evidence
that countries with a larger number of women in politics and the workforce have lower levels of
corruption. She takes issue with essentialist notions of ‗women‘s higher moral nature‘ and ar-
gues instead that liberal democracies in general provide more opportunities for women to oc-
cupy positions of influence within the public sphere compared to poorer, less liberal and more
corrupt regimes. While women may demonstrate less corrupt behaviour in public office, this is
more likely because they are more frequently excluded from male-dominated patronage and
power networks in political parties and public bureaucracies.

Nevertheless, there have been important efforts in recent years to produce governance indica-
tors well-suited to account for gender dynamics. For instance, UNDP partners with state and
non- state agencies in order to enhance their capacity to produce gender-sensitive evidence
that is also capable of capturing in-country variations, vulnerabilities and poverty context.xii

To address concerns about methodology and bias, a more ‗participatory approach‘ to the design
of indicators is advocated, in which local stakeholders are involved. During the past decade, do-
nor organizations have published or commissioned studies aiming to identify lessons learned
and ways to monitor various aspects of governance reforms. This has supplemented interna-
tional ranking indexes on governance with country- or region-specific stories and narratives,
which in turn have helped to inform the design of democratic governance policies based on lo-
cally- generated knowledge as well as local norms and values. This emphasis on qualitative evi-
dence is married with the recognition of the importance of informal institutions in driving
change (Unsworth 2007). The OECD‘s Metagora Project is an example of an initiative to pro-
mote domestic research. It focuses on methods, tools and frameworks for measuring democ-
racy, human rights and governance, emphasizing the involvement of domestic actors and using
indicators as an entry point into policy debates. In several countries in Africa and Latin America,
the project used regular official household surveys to collect relevant data.

The Metagora knowledge base was inherited from the OECD by the UNDP Global Programme
on Democratic Governance Assessments. The programme strives to enhance national capacity
for systematic in-country generation of governance evidence in 15 countries. This work fills a
signifcant gap. Despite the proliferation of governance indicators, the reviewed literature brings
attention to the pressing need to produce systematic governance evidence. This is ac-
knowledged in both academic and policy publications. For example, an Overseas Development



Institute (ODI) Briefing Paper states: ―The lack of systematic data about what works, makes it a
challenge to design effective parliamentary strengthening programmes‖ (Hudson 2007).

4.1.2 The Demand Side

Demand for knowledge comes from policy makers seeking ideas about what works. Often these
ideas come from other countries and cultures. The reviewed literature shows that in established
democracies, research uptake takes place in public administration reforms through the transfer
of policy ideas across nations. However, ideas are not detached from the cultural context to
which they are transferred. An analysis of OECD countries finds that cultural variables play a
very important role in the transfer of policy innovations among nations (Peters 1997). Similarly,
an analysis of the transfer of a British initiative of public sector reform to Japan shows that ―the
transfer of policy ideas can be a highly proactive political process in which political actors in the
learning country interpret and define both problems and solution as they ‗borrow‘ from another
country‖ (Nakano 2004).

The concept of policy transfer is especially suitable for analysing the spread of governance pol-
icy ideas that have been disseminated by the international community. As Unsworth (2006) ar-
gues, many developing countries have formal institutions of representation, accountability and
administration built on models transferred from OECD countries, but their performance is not
the same: ―they work very differently, and often lack legitimacy and effectiveness, because they
were not forged through a political process of state/society negotiation, and are not supported
by economic structures which encourage organization around broader, common interests‖
(Unsworth 2006, p. 19). The transfer of ideas across cultures is an area in need of further
study. Although the literature review found a stream of work on public administration reform,
comparable literature on the ways anti-corruption commissions and truth and reconciliation
commissions have expanded across cultures with the support of international development
partners is lacking.

Turning to developing countries, a number of studies look at the lack of use of governance evi-
dence. Specifically, there is increasing attention on the factors behind the lack of use of
governance indicators in domestic policy processes (Hyden 2007). A recent paper by
Hyden on governance assessments concluded that ―assessments carried out by international
partners to meet their own programmatic objectives are deemed to be of little relevance to in-
form governance reform in partner countries‖ (Hyden 2007, p. 40). These assessments have
helped to attract attention on the progress of governance in many countries. While they have
contributed to better understanding of what is being achieved in governance, they are probably
not well-suited to describing how local governance is achieved (Hyden, Mease et al. 2008). For
that reason, UNDP‘s global programme on governance assessments seeks to enhance the lin-
kage of in-country governance evidence to national and sub-national processes of governance
reform and poverty reduction.


Governance reforms in post-conflict societies face specific challenges. According to

Brinkerhoff (2005), governance reforms should target three main areas: (1) reconstituting le-
gitimacy, (2) re-establishing security and (3) rebuilding effectiveness.

The first target, to reconstitute legitimacy, involves a lengthy and complex transition process to
make democracy the ―only game in town‖ and is arguably the most studied by the literature on
democratization. Rebuilding trust among citizens and also between citizens and the state is fun-
damental to reconstituting legitimacy (Coletta and Cullen 2000). Unlike conflicts between states,
which often mobilize national unity, violent conflicts within a state produce major damage to in-
terpersonal trust through the destruction of the norms and values that underline cooperation
and collective action in society. The damage wrought to trust extends also to the links between
citizens and the state. This has a direct negative effect not only on the ability of citizens to or-



ganize themselves in self-help groups, but also on the ability of the state to rebuild its basic in-
stitutions and governance processes. The first generation of international-led governance at-
tempts in post-conflict societies focused attention on electoral processes (e.g. election observa-
tion missions); today the focus has shifted towards more long-term processes such as the con-
solidation of a party system.

The second target, to re-establish security, has received interest in the context of the Iraq and
Afghanistan reconstruction. In dealing with ex-combatants, the DDR trio (disarmament, demo-
bilization and reintegration) are identified as key governance initiatives (Brinkerhoff 2005).
However, they cannot be thought in isolation from the broader aim of building a democratic se-
curity sector. In Max Weber‘s terms, securing state monopoly control of force over its whole
territory is a pre-requisite of state reconstruction. In this vein, many post-conflict countries face
the specific challenge of dealing effectively with ethnic and territorial divisions through innova-
tive design of state institutions. Post-war democracies often emerge with strong splits along
ethnic and territorial lines, which is why debates about the merits of federalism and decentrali-
sation for managing conflict has superseded the debate about other institutional dilemmas.

The third target, to rebuild effectiveness, is about being able to provide basic services. Meeting
this target requires that the basic functions of the public sector are fulfilled. But to accomplish
this requires increasing institutional capabilities.

Combined, these three challenges – reconstituting legitimacy, re-establishing security and re-
building effectiveness – point to the kind of evidence needed to inform the process of govern-
ance reform. They also shape the way in which think tanks and other knowledge actors interact
with policy makers. In the case of post-conflict situations an additional problem must also be
confronted: the lack of an historical dimension in the governance literature, which pre-
cludes strategic thinking about the timing of reforms. Sequencing appears to be key to the suc-
cess of governance processes in post-conflict environments (Rondinelli and Montgomery 2005),
yet establishing priorities among the three target areas is a contentious issue. For example, it
has been argued that the inability to provide effective security in Iraq hampered efforts to re-
store basic services and build legitimate governance (Brinkerhoff and Mayfield 2005). Sequenc-
ing and the time dimension in reforms has been recognized as one of the largest gaps in our
knowledge on governance reforms insofar as ―much of the research and advocacy that has con-
tributed to the good governance agenda is ahistorical‖ (Grindle 2004).

Another challenge in post-conflict settings is the lack of technical and complex evidence,
which may not be available in a country emerging from conflict and seeking to rebuild the na-
tion state. In particular, there is often a lack of baseline data (e.g. reliable census data), which
is critical in developing an evidence base. Against this background, efforts to enhance the ca-
pacities of national statistical offices have proved to be an effective tool to augment the quality
of research evidence (Naval, Walter et al. 2008).

The most striking example of the complexity of governance knowledge in post-conflict so-
cieties is arguably that of human rights evidence, in which NGOs and think tanks usually play
key roles in monitoring the identification and prosecution of individual and collective human
rights abuses. This entails a very intricate process by which it is ―necessary to transform narra-
tive information on violations, victims and perpetrators into a countable set of data categories
without discarding important information and without misrepresenting the collected informa-
tion‖ (Naval et al 2008, p. 137). Frequently this is done within the context of Truth and Recon-
ciliation Commissions in post-conflict societies as a mechanism to promote peace-building, es-
pecially when political transitions are a result of a negotiation rather than an outright victory.
Brahm (2007) notes the value of these commissions:

―In these delicate situations, truth commissions have come to be seen as a valuable tool to bal-
ance demands for accountability for past human rights abuses with the fact that perpetrators
often retain some influence over the course of the transition. By early 2006, over two dozen



countries have created truth commissions in an attempt to put the past behind them‖ (Brahm,
2007: 17).

There has been little investigation into the impacts of such commissions, and the evidence that
does exist has been largely normative, anecdotal in nature and reliant on a handful of well-
known cases, especially that of South Africa (ibid). Questions for future studies abound: Do
truth commissions signal the beginning or the end of efforts to deal with the past? Do they
pave the way to the institutionalization of a human rights culture or does their establishment
have little impact on holding political elites accountable? And do staff working in NGOs, think
tanks and government institutions involved in the production of such evidence have the time,
resources and expertise to produce and analyse quality evidence required for sustainable recon-

Table 1 illustrates the analytical framework applied in this paper. It combines the findings from
the application of the comparative framework presented in section 3 with the specific dynamics
of demand and supply in governance issues identified in section 4.



Table 1: Applying the framework of the knowledge-policy interface to governance policy, with a focus on post-conflict settings

Policy is- Dynamics of the evidence-policy nexus Implications for governance policy Governance in post-conflict settings
As the level of technical expertise in- The relative importance of technical expertise The authoritative role of knowledge in post-
Type and level of technical exper-

creases, the demand for knowledge in- varies across governance issues: some are not conflict situations is often complicated. The
creases and so the leverage for research highly technical (e.g. participatory policy making) technical reputation of intellectuals cannot
actors such as think tanks. but others are highly technical issues (rule of law be disentangled from their role in previous
Economic interests are also more actively or fiscal decentralisation). authoritarian regimes.
engaged with knowledge actors (e.g. by The technical specificity of rule of law reform ini- The emergence from conflict requires highly
providing research funding). tiatives resulted in a monopoly of one discipline technical evidence that may not be available
Debates are depoliticized (knowledge is (law) and shows the drawbacks of a lack of dia- in a country. A lack of baseline data and the

used as ‗objective evidence‘). logue between academic disciplines. need for building evidence from scratch is a
A specific profession often monopolizes Lower levels of technicality encourages a plural- specific challenge of post-conflict environ-
the debate and there is reduced scope for ity of actors to become involved in policy dia- ments.
multi-disciplinary dialogue. logue, but brings lower demand for knowledge
actors from governmental actors. This is argua-
bly the case of human rights, which have been
advocated by a large mosaic of NGOs.

As the contestation of the issue increases, Governance reforms are mainly about altering Governance issues related to human rights
knowledge actors have diminished lever- the rules of the political game and as such are in post-conflict environments are highly
Level of contestation

age. often quite contested. Political interests play a emotional and political actors might seek a
Interests are not only economic but also key role in the design and implementation of re- legitimating function for knowledge. Hence,
religious or political. For example, political forms and this might explain the limited attention the decision to publicly release information
institutions seek to shape knowledge pro- paid to research production. once the evidence is robust deserves special
duction in strategic terms. Whereas the first generation of governance re- attention.
Knowledge is used as ‗political ammuni- forms sought to be technocratic, there is an The role of evidence in the work of truth
tion‘ (legitimating function). emerging consensus about how ―politics mat- and reconciliation committees is extremely
ters‖. complex and unveils the problems of con-
ceiving evidence as ‗objective facts‘ con-
structed in a ahistorical fashion.



Strong economic interests may dominate There are strong economic interests involved in In post-conflict contexts economic interests
policy debates and use their power to in- fighting corruption, which might explain the ac- may be especially powerful, taking advan-
Strength of economic

crease their influence over other knowl- tive role of the private sector in fostering anti- tage of the unstable political environment or
edge and policy actors. corruption agenda and its demand for knowledge even power vacuum to promote their own

The main dispute takes place between po- services to monitor progress. interests (e.g. through financing of political
litical institutions and organized interests Competing economic interests reside at different parties).
(interest groups, trade unions, etc.). levels of government. This often results in a de-
Other non-state actors such as NGOs find mand for knowledge from sub-national policy in-
it more difficult to get involved in policy stitutions.
debates in which economic interests play
a central role (e.g. trade policy).
Knowledge actors play a stronger role in Governance reforms have been heavily driven by Human rights issues are likely to have a
policy making when they are able to coor- the international community, which often con- high level of international involvement. For
Level of internationalisation

dinate actions transnationally. tributes to enhanced conditions for coordinated other governance issues, it may depend on
Political institutions see their leverage de- action and effective change. the degree of international interest in the
creased vis-à-vis transnational interests, International non-governmental actors have particular country (e.g. was the end of the
although reformists may find windows of been able to coordinate efforts for human rights, conflict brokered through international me-
opportunity if they manage to move but effective coordination has not been realized diation). This involvement can be expected
across policy arenas and engage with pro- in other governance issues such as rule of law or to wane to some degree after the initial
change political actors internationally. decentralisation, a small number of donors not- post-conflict period is over.

As the number of actors involved in a pol- Efforts by knowledge actors to specialize in In most post-conflict societies, it will take
Number and strength

icy network increases, including turnover governance issues are still incipient. In the case some time for civil society organizations to
of issue champions

in terms of core membership, it becomes of governance reforms, some analysts argue rebuild following a period of repression.
easier for knowledge actors to drive para- that the openness of policy spaces needs to be They may even need to be built up for the
digmatic policy change. strategically defined so as not to impede first time. Especially in low-income develop-
At the same time, continuity in issue change. ing countries, think tanks may not have
champions requires higher levels of coor- started to emerge. As a result, the relative
dination among actors and increases lev- strength and density of domestic issue
erage. champions is likely to be low.



The role of knowledge and of research Governance issues often constitute new topics in Agenda setting is the first stage of govern-
Stage of the policy proc-

utilization is different across stages in the the public agenda and, as such, need to go ance policy in conflict settings. Despite its
policy process. through a lengthy process to gain a place in the great importance, there is a pressing need
The role of discursive strategies is crucial public agenda. for moving from agenda-setting to the im-
at initial stages (to define a problem). Efforts from knowledge institutions should be di- plementation stage in order to gain confi-
Knowledge takes a problem-solving role rected towards the early phase of the policy dence from the citizenry.

when the implementation phase arises. process.

The role of knowledge is key at initial
stages of policy process. In new issues
and less-established policy domains, a
more complex and lengthy process is re-
quired to set the agenda.
Instrumental use of research typically re- Governance reforms usually involve setting up Post-conflict settings are excellent institu-
sults in incremental changes. Paradigmatic new institutional arrangements. Therefore, ac- tion- building exercises that require
Type of change in-

shifts require new and challenging policy tors promoting governance changes should be changes in paradigms to remove firmly en-
discourses. aware of the importance of creating new policy trenched authoritarian values.The need for
narratives and the key role played by ground- meta-policy discourses is the key challenge

breaking knowledge in building those narratives. for knowledge actors in this realm. In post-
conflict countries rapid change to secure
citizen confidence is most often called for.
Meta-policy discourse needs to be combined
with practical knowledge and problem-
solving skills.
Greater institutional capacities of knowl- Governance reforms are particularly complex: The trade-off between domestic ownership
Institutional capaci-

edge actors increase their leverage vis-à- the ultimate end of the reform (institution build- and internationally- supported knowledge
vis policy and economic actors. ing) is a pre-requisite for research uptake. This is production efforts is amplified in post-
Greater governmental institutional capaci- an obstacle for increasing knowledge use. The conflict environments. The tendency has
ties lead to more stable relations with answer has been support from externally-built been to rely on internationally-generated

knowledge brokers and also to stronger knowledge (especially by the international com- knowledge production but more recent ini-
positions among organized interests. munity). At work now is a complex trade-off be- tiatives have invested in the long-term proc-
tween increasing domestic research capacities ess of increasing skills capacities of domestic
and applying evidence constructed by interna- research institutions.
tional organizations.




Literature on the knowledge-policy interface is growing rapidly, and increasingly addresses dy-
namics in the contexts of both developing and OECD countries. Relatively little is known, how-
ever, about how the dynamics of the evidence-policy nexus are shaped by the type of policy is-
sue under analysis, or by think tanks and policy research institutes. This is particularly so in the
case of the generation and use of governance evidence. Understanding the supply of and de-
mand for governance evidence in post-conflict societies is critical for boosting the work of think
tanks and knowledge actors that promote evidence-informed policy decisions.

As this desktop review has highlighted, there is a considerable array of governance evidence in-
dicators and approaches that are internationally generated, but a much more limited generation
and use of context-specific evidence in post-conflict societies. A triangulation of quantitative and
qualitative approaches, although potentially fruitful, is still scarce. Moreover, systematic efforts
to synthesise across diverse developing let alone post-conflict societies and to collate lessons
learned have yet to be undertaken. There is an urgent need to develop tailored and empirically-
grounded approaches to promoting good governance that go beyond normative assumptions.

In order to better tease out specificities in the process of governance evidence generation and
uptake, this paper drew on a framework for comparing evidence-based policy processes across
policy sectors. Its findings suggest that the dynamics of governance policy in general and
in post-conflict settings in particular, have a number of specific characteristics.
Moreover, these characteristics often play out differently depending on the particular govern-
ance issue under consideration given that governance policy issues encompass both techno-
cratic dimensions (e.g. public administration reforms and decentralization) and normative di-
mensions (e.g. transitional justice and human rights). Several implications for partnerships by
the international development community with think tanks in post-conflict settings can be
drawn from these findings.

5.1 Implications for Partnerships

First, the level of technical expertise required to engage in governance policy processes is
mixed and should inform the development of partnerships aiming to promote evidence-informed
policy dialogues. Public administration reform and civil society participation are not highly tech-
nical issues, but the rule of law and fiscal decentralization demand a high level of technical ex-
pertise. The latter has resulted in a monopoly of a single discipline and restricted dialogue
across academic disciplines. To overcome this, multidisciplinary dialogue can be promoted by
establishing broad partnerships with different types of think tanks. Somewhat surprisingly,
however, a high level of technical expertise was not found to translate neatly into stronger de-
mand for knowledge production from policy actors, arguably because reforms potentially
threaten the existence of the very institutes in which these actors are embedded. Among less
technically demanding governance issues, such as human rights, a plurality of non-
governmental actors are engaged in policy dialogue, but their impact to date has tended to be
limited to short-term gains.

Another critical issue to consider is the level of issue contestation. Governance reforms were
found to be highly contested given that they often involve altering the rules of the political
game, likely explaining the weak demand for research production among political actors. Do-
nors and other international actors are increasingly cognisant of this dynamic and whereas the
first generation of governance reforms was heavily technocratic in its emphasis, there is an
emerging consensus that ‗politics matters‘ and needs to be factored into the design of any re-
form programme. In the case of post-conflict environments, human rights debates are often
highly emotional, with political actors sometimes seeking a legitimating function for knowledge.
As such, the role of evidence in the work of truth and reconciliation commissions was found to



be quite complex, underscoring the problem of conceiving evidence as ‗objective fact‘ con-
structed in an ahistorical fashion.

Economic interests often play a key role in governance debates. A case in point is the active
involvement of the Northern-based private sector in fostering the anti-corruption agenda in de-
veloping country contexts, and its demand for knowledge services to monitor progress. Compet-
ing economic interests reside at different levels of government resulting in a demand for knowl-
edge from sub-national policy institutions of which there has been only scant analysis. Economic
actors may be especially powerful in post-conflict contexts, given the opportunity to take advan-
tage of unstable or fragile political environments to promote their own interests.

The number, density and relative strength of issue champions is another key dimension to
consider in potential partnerships with think tanks or policy research institutes. A larger set of
advocates increases the scope and pace for change. In the case of governance reforms, analy-
sis suggested that it is important to pay attention to the degree to which the characteristics of
the policy space provided opportunities for open civic participation. Given that governance re-
forms demand macro-level oversight, it is important that the degree of openness of the policy
space is ‗strategically defined‘ so as not to impede reform. This is especially the case in post-
conflict societies, where it will take some time for civil society organizations to rebuild following
a period of repression. They may even need to be built up for the first time. Especially in re-
source-constrained low-income developing countries, think thanks may not have started to

The internationalisation of many aspects of the good governance agenda provides an ena-
bling environment for coordinated action and effective change, potentially mediated through the
mechanism of policy transfer. This opportunity has been realized in the case of coordinated ac-
tion among human rights non-governmental actors. However, effective coordination has largely
not been achieved in the case of knowledge sharing and lesson learning from decentralization
reforms. Moreover, the trade-off between domestic ownership and internationally-supported
knowledge production efforts is amplified in post-conflict environments. The tendency in the
past has been to rely on internationally-generated knowledge production; more recent initia-
tives have invested in the long-term process of increasing skills capacities of domestic research

The stage of the policy process in which change is sought is another critical dimension that
any partnership should approach strategically. This informs the type of research and research
communication that a knowledge actor undertakes. Governance issues often constitute new
topics in the public agenda and, as such, need to go through a lengthy process in order to gain
recognition as a legitimate subject of policy debate. Therefore, efforts from knowledge institu-
tions should be directed towards the early phase of the policy process. These efforts should
create research that bolsters new meta-narratives and a paradigm shift in thinking, in contrast
to a focus on policy instruments that may only bring about incremental change. This is particu-
larly the case in post-conflict contexts, which can be considered as institution-building exercises
par excellence. A paradox permeates evidence-based policy in the governance domain.
Whereas the prospects for implementing research results heavily depend on institutional ca-
pabilities on both sides of the equation (i.e. knowledge actors and policy makers), the very
aim of governance reforms is institution-building. This has arguably been one of the key factors
explaining the weak use of evidence in governance reforms.

5.2 Summary and Future Directions

In summary, the dynamics of knowledge generation and uptake in the governance sector are
complex and often stand apart from general understandings about evidence-based policy proc-
esses. This highlights the pressing need for greater attention to the following:



o The uneven supply and demand for various types of governance evidence—including hu-
man rights monitoring, corruption monitoring and accountability mechanisms;

o Knowledge needs at different stages in the policy cycle, as well as the sequencing of evi-
dence production;

o The relative contributions of diverse actors in the processes of knowledge generation and
knowledge translation and, in particular, more attention to the role of think tanks in the
production and communication of policy-relevant and practical governance evidence;

o The role of international actors, including donors and international NGOs, in funding and
supporting (e.g. in terms of capacity building or research support) local knowledge actors.

Combined these future research agenda can play a critical role in underpinning efforts to en-
hance the effectiveness of think tanks in promoting governance policy decisions informed by
rigorous empirical evidence.


Evidence-based or The evidence-based policy movement seeks to develop frameworks

evidence-informed and techniques to understand and increase research influence on
policy policy-making. Although the idea that research and other sources
of evidence could inform policy is not new, the UK Labour Govern-
ment of 1997 popularized the term as a key element of modern po-
licymaking. More recently, however, it has been the subject of in-
creasing criticism and, as a consequence, a more refined and dense
body of work on the topic has been consolidated. The terms evi-
dence-informed and evidence-inspired (instead of evidence-based)
policy are more realistic acknowledgments of the role of research
among other factors of influence.

There is no unique definition of the term governance. In broad

Governance policy is-
terms, ―governance deals with institutional process and the rules of
the game for authoritative decision-making‖ but definitions differ
significantly in terms of specificity and normativity‖ (Grindle 2007,
p. 555). For the purposes of this work, governance policy encom-
passes issues from anti-corruption and the rule of law to participa-
tory policy making and decentralization.

Think tanks The term ‗think tank‘ is used to depict a wide range of research or-
ganizations that undertake public policy research and analysis and
intend to influence policy dialogues and advocate policy solutions.
This definition includes policy research centres associated with
academic institutions and research-oriented non-governmental or-
ganizations (NGOs), as well as party and state-affiliated institutes.

Knowledge brokers, ‗Knowledge broker‘ is a recently coined category that aims to cap-
knowledge actors ture the mediating activity performed by those who are able to
move back and forth between academia and policy making (Kirst
2000) and to speak both languages, translating academic findings
into policy-relevant products and generating research agendas con-
sonant with policy needs. ‗Knowledge actor‘ is a more general term
that refers to agents of several institutions (universities, think
tanks, international organizations, etc.) which rely on their exper-



tise as the major source of the legitimacy of their role in the policy

Policy issue Since boundaries of policy sectors are difficult to determine and
there is no consensus about a typology of policy sectors, we use
policy issue instead to refer to different types of policies.

Policy process Policy process refers to the ―manner in which a problem gets con-
ceptualized and brought to government for solution; governmental
institutions formulate alternatives and select policy solutions; and
those solutions get implemented, evaluated and revised.‖ (Sabatier
1998) .

Policy network analy- Policy network analysis seeks to understand the establishment of
sis relations between interest groups, sectors of governments, activists
and academics aimed at influencing the policy process (Thatcher
1998). Depending on the relative strength of each of these actors,
several types of networks have been defined: inter alia, advocacy
networks, epistemic communities and issue networks. The terms
was developed in the 1970s in the US and the UK to provide a
counterbalance to well-established visions of policy making in the
1960s and 1970s, such as the iron triangle, in which there was a
sharp distinction between private and public actors.

Epistemic communi- Coined by Haas (1992), the term epistemic community describes a
ties network of professionals with recognized expertise and competence
in a particular domain. There are four defining features to these
communities: shared normative and principled beliefs which pro-
vide the value based rationales for their action; shared causal be-
liefs or professional judgements; common notions of validity based
on inter-subjective, internally defined criteria for validating knowl-
edge; and a common policy enterprise (Haas, 1992: 3).

Transnational advo- ―A transnational advocacy network includes those relevant actors

cacy network working internationally on an issue, who are bound together by
shared values, a common discourse, and dense exchanges of in-
formation and services‖ (Keck and Sikkink 1998, p. 2). Networks
are forms of organizations characterized by voluntary, reciprocal
and horizontal patterns of communication and exchange. Major ac-
tors in TANs are international and domestic NGOs, the media,
foundations, churches, intellectuals andgovernment officials.



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i We wish to thank Noha El-Mikawy for her detailed comments on an earlier version of this paper.
Human Development Report 2002: Deepening Democracy in a Fragmented World.‖ New York, USA: UNDP.
Aid for promoting governance issues has increased from 3 percent of total official development assistance
in 1990 to 12.5 percent in 2007 (OECD DAC Statistics). Figures correspond to ―government and civil society‖
sector for all DAC countries. http://stats.oecd.org/wbos/Index.aspx?DatasetCode=ODA_SECTOR. Accessed:
March 2009.
For instance, a review of the Journal of Evidence and Policy reveals that less than a handful of articles
have focused on developing country contexts. A definition of evidence-based policy can be found in the
DFID Social Protection White Paper Consultation, April 7, 2009.
According to Abelson (2000), the first wave took place in the early 1900s and ―shared a commitment to
engage in long-term policy analysis‖. Policy institutes created then were mainly composed by academics. A
second wave of think tanks emerged after the Second World War as government contractors (such as
RAND) and, like the first wave, they were ―determined to insulate their scholars from partisan politics‖. The
third wave (termed advocacy think tanks), unlike their predecessors, ―have consciously avoided erecting a
barrier between policy research and political advocacy‖.
We regressed catalogued background reports and press releases published by Amnesty International from
1986 to 2000 on measures of human rights abuse, state power, foreign aid, civil society, and media promi-
nence. The dependent variables consist of Amnesty International background reports and press releases
condemning abuses within a specific country in a given year.
These are case studies from two Northern country contexts: Landry et al (2003) and Howlett (2002) on
Canada, and the work of Nutley and colleagues (2002) on the United Kingdom.
The former was coined by Haas (1992) and the latter by Keck and Sikkink (1998). Please refer to the
Glossary for definitions.
―Gender mainstreaming policies are defined as the ―efforts to reinvent processes of policy formulation and
implementation across all issue areas to address and rectify persistent and emerging disparities between
men and women‖ True and Mintrom 2001, p. 28.
See for example Atkinson (2000) and Pirrie (2001).
See UNDP (2006).