Edited by Stephen P. Osborne and Louise Brown
Chapter 9: Evidence-based policy-making for innovation
The use of reliable evidence as an input for policy development and for the improvement of service delivery is widely agreed to be vital. Indeed, high-quality decision-making seems improbable without sound evidence and thorough debate about options and outcomes. Sound evidence is a necessary condition for developing close links between service goals, implementation actions, and good outcomes for clients and citizens. The benefits of well-informed decision processes include increased capacity for effective policy design, more effective programme implementation, better monitoring of performance, and thus improved outcomes for clients and citizens. Innovation for improvement in public policy and public services is generally seen to depend on knowledge and evidence, even for those issues where the level of scientific certainty is modest. Innovation is generally seen as a desirable feature of policy systems, and the ‘diffusion’ of innovation through new programmes and professional practices is central to the success of innovation. However, ‘change for its own sake’ has negative effects, undermining morale and capabilities; organizational restructuring often exhibits some of these negative features. This discussion is therefore concerned only with reforms or innovations aimed at policy/programme improvements which are socially valued, and overlooks the negative examples of managerial change based on ideology rather than evidence. Among many possible examples of innovation in public services, we highlight cases where relevant evidence has been mobilized to assist in decision-making.
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