Understanding conceptual impact of scientific knowledge on policy: The role of policy-making conditions
This paper presents a framework to understand the impact of scientific knowledge on the policy-making process, focusing on the conceptual impact. We note the continuing dissatisfaction with the quality and effects of science-policy interactions in both theory and practice. We critique the current literature's emphasis on the role and the activities of scientists to generate policy impact, neglecting the conditions and roles of 'user' policy-making organisations. The framework offered in the paper addresses these critiques by developing an argument about the essential role of institutional 'user side' conditions for scientific knowledge to achieve impact. The framework is informed by the reflexive institutionalist and the neo-institutionalist theoretical approaches. The main contribution of the framework is that it unpicks the institutional conditions within policy-making organisations that influence the uptake of scientific knowledge and provides an operationalisation to analyse them. The wider relevance of the paper is in moving the focus from the activities of scientists and the incentive structure in scientific organisations to the policy user side.