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Appears in Collections:History and Politics Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: The myth of 'evidence-based policymaking' in a decentred state
Author(s): Cairney, Paul
Keywords: Decentred state
evidence-based policymaking
policy implementation
policy process
theories of the policy process
Issue Date: 12-Feb-2020
Citation: Cairney P (2020) The myth of 'evidence-based policymaking' in a decentred state. Public Policy and Administration.
Abstract: I describe a policy theory story in which a decentred state results from choice and necessity. Governments often choose not to centralise policymaking but they would not succeed if they tried. Many policy scholars take this story for granted, but it is often ignored in other academic disciplines and wider political debate. Instead, commentators call for more centralisation to deliver more accountable, ‘rational,’ and ‘evidence-based’ policymaking. Such contradictory arguments, about the feasibility and value of government centralisation, raise an ever-present dilemma for governments to accept or challenge decentring. They also accentuate a modern dilemma about how to seek ‘evidence-based policymaking’ in a decentred state. I identify three ideal-type ways in which governments can address both dilemmas consistently. I then identify their ad hoc use by UK and Scottish governments. Although each government has a reputation for more or less centralist approaches, both face similar dilemmas and address them in similar ways. Their choices reflect their need to appear to be in control while dealing with the fact that they are not.
DOI Link: 10.1177/0952076720905016
Rights: Cairney P, The myth of 'evidence-based policymaking' in a decentred state, Public Policy and Administration (Forthcoming). Copyright © The Author 2020. Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications. DOI:
Notes: Output Status: Forthcoming/Available Online
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