By Katherine Smith
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Additional info for Beyond Evidence Based Policy in Public Health: The Interplay of Ideas
This implies that systems can quickly shift from one period of relative stability (in which only minimal, gradual change occurs) to another. Their ideas suggest ‘punctuations’ occur when persuasive ideas increasingly gain attention, 32 Beyond Evidence-Based Policy in Public Health subsequently becoming unstoppable. The potential for ideas to achieve this kind of influence depends on external (largely political) factors as well as on the inherent qualities of the idea itself. Similarly to Hall (1990, 1993), the notion of ‘punctuated equilibriums’ implies that a number of different factors have to converge for the kind of rare, large-scale policy change that marks a ‘punctuation’ to occur.
Researchers themselves are unlikely to be able to ensure all of the four most popular recommendations are in place. They may, for example, have little control over the resources needed to ensure that effective communication channels and appropriate reward structures are in place. This leaves proposals that researchers should develop ongoing relationships with potential research users, and work to provide clear and timely summaries. The latter is simple, uncontroversial and relatively inexpensive but, as all of the reviews point out, rarely sufficient to ensure impact, while as Innvær and colleagues (2002) note, there is no guarantee that the former will increase the use of research within policy in optimal ways.
Indeed, Borzel (1998: p. 253) goes as far as claiming that it is unclear 30 Beyond Evidence-Based Policy in Public Health whether policy networks ‘constitute a mere metaphor, a method, an analytical tool or a proper theory’. Nevertheless, or perhaps as a result of this diversity, the term ‘policy network’ has proved remarkably popular and, in contrast to theories which focus solely on researchers and policymakers, it serves to emphasise the diversity of actors who might be involved in the interplay between research and policy.
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