Learning from the Margins
Edited by Manuel González-López and Bjørn T. Asheim
Chapter 3: Policy learning in regions: the potential of co-generative research methodologies to help responsible innovation
There are different ways to interpret what policy learning is. There is diversity, for instance, when it comes to who is learning, what they are learning and the result of the learning process. This chapter shares, first, some of the perspectives developed in the framework of regional innovation policies. Then it focuses on the role of researchers in the field to contribute to policy learning. When addressing the role of researchers, we depart from the opinion held by some authors that policymakers do not always have the absorptive capacity required to implement policy recommendations delivered by researchers. Subsequently we offer a hypothesis that what is hindering these processes is not only the lack of absorptive capacity by policymakers but also the taken-for-granted assumptions that linear transfer works. Linear transfer is the process through which knowledge is first generated by researchers, secondly translated into recommendations and finally implemented by policymakers. We argue that behind the low level of effectiveness of these procedures lies, as much as the requirement for capabilities by policymakers, the need for a better understanding of the policy process by researchers. We try to address this last issue in two ways. First, we propose some frameworks from policy sciences that can help complement the ones in regional innovation policy literature. Then, based on in-depth interviews with policymakers in the Basque country, we share some insights into why policymakers find recommendations from researchers hard to implement, signalling how this connection could be improved. In the concluding section, we propose some methodological features of research that could help enhance policy-learning processes.
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