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Policy Sciences

, Volume 51, Issue 3, pp 269–290 | Cite as

Neglected challenges to evidence-based policy-making: the problem of policy accumulation

  • Christian Adam
  • Yves Steinebach
  • Christoph Knill
Research Article

Abstract

Claims for evidence-based policy-making are motivated by the assumption that if practitioners and scholars want to learn about effective policy design, they also can. This paper argues that this is becoming more and more challenging with the conventional approaches due to the accumulation of national policy portfolios, characterized by (a) a growing number of different policy targets and instruments, that (b) are often interdependent and (c) reformed in an uncontrolled way. These factors undermine our ability to accurately relate outcome changes to individual components within the respective policy mix. Therefore, policy accumulation becomes an additional source of the well-known ‘attribution problem’ in evaluation research. We argue that policy accumulation poses fundamental challenges to existing approaches of evidence-based policy-making. Moreover, these challenges are very likely to create a trade-off between the need for increasing methodological sophistication on one side, and the decreasing political impact of more fine-grained and conditional findings of evaluation results on the other.

Keywords

Policy design Policy mixes Policy complexity Learning Performance management Evidence-based policy Outcome-based learning Policy evaluation Policy accumulation 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This research was funded by CONSENSUS project financed under the European Commission’s 7th Framework Programm.

Supplementary material

11077_2018_9318_MOESM1_ESM.docx (115 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 115 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.LMU MunichMunichGermany

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