Theory, Practise and Quality Assurance
Evaluating Sustainable Development series
Edited by Anneke von Raggamby and Frieder Rubik
Chapter 11: Indicators as an Appraisal Technology: Framework for Analysing the Policy Influence of the UK Energy Sector Indicators
___________________________________________________ INTRODUCTION: INDICATORS AS A DISCURSIVE KNOWLEDGE TECHNOLOGY Recent years have seen a multiplication in the use of indicators in most areas of public policy. Indicators are employed, on one hand, to monitor policy performance and foster accountability within frameworks such as evidencebased policy and New Public Management and, on the other hand, to promote policy learning. While the attention of researchers and practitioners has thus far primarily focused on the technical details of indicator design, the role of indicators in policymaking has been a relatively under-researched topic. Likewise, the bulk of ‘knowledge use’ literature has focused on the role of evaluations, assessments and scientific research in policymaking, paying little attention to the influence of indicators. However, the early findings from research on the role of indicators in policymaking have pointed in a direction similar to that which has been identified in more general knowledge use research, namely that the direct, instrumental use of indicators by policymakers seems to be an exception rather than a rule (Innes and Booher 2000; Gudmundsson 2003). One could therefore hypothesise that scientific assessments, evaluations, scenarios and indicators tend to influence policies indirectly and through largely unforeseen pathways, for example by gradually shaping frameworks of thought or by providing stakeholders with ‘ammunition’ that is useful in their daily political battles (Weiss 1998; Weiss 1999; Vedung 2001). This chapter draws on concepts and lessons from the various fields of ‘knowledge use’ literature, notably evaluation research, to develop a 175 Markku Lehtonen 176 Sustainable Development, Evaluation and Policy-Making...
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