Policy Sciences

, Volume 47, Issue 1, pp 25–49 | Cite as

Expert knowledge use and deliberation in local policy making

  • Martin LundinEmail author
  • PerOla Öberg


This article analyzes the extent to which public administrators make use of expert knowledge (i.e., research or evaluation reports) when they prepare policy advice, and the extent to which politicians deliberate on the information provided to them by the administrators. The study is based on original, quantitative data from local politics in Sweden. We find that expert-informed policy advice from the administrators and critical reflection by the politicians are more pronounced when there is a lot of public attention. Furthermore, administrators use expert information more when they operate in a context in which there are large political disagreements. However, politicians deliberate less on the administrators’ policy advices in such environments. Thus, conflict seems to generate a pressure on the administrators to search for expert knowledge. But at the same time, within a context of political disputes, politicians make less effort to understand and critically reflect over the information provided to them by the administration, and are less inclined to change their opinions even if good arguments are presented to them. Thus, the empirical analysis indicates that what role expertise gets in policy making is very much a consequence of the local political environment.


Expert knowledge Policy making Political disputes Public attention Deliberation Local government Sweden 



This article is financed by the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research. We are thankful for comments from Chris Ansell, Bo Bengtsson, Carl Dahlström, Karl-Oskar Lindgren as well as the participants at the seminars at the Nordic Congress on Local Government Research in Odense, November 2010; the conference on “Knowledge and Politics” in Uppsala, March 2011; the Department of Political Science at University of Gothenburg, April 2011; the Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy (IFAU) in Uppsala, June 2011; and the Nordic Political Science Congress (NOPSA) in Vaasa, August 2011. We would also like to thank our two research assistants Cecilia Josefsson and Jonas Thelander for their great effort helping us collect data, and the respondents to our survey questions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IFAU, Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education PolicyUppsalaSweden
  2. 2.Department of GovernmentUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden

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