Understanding conceptual impact of scientific knowledge on policy: The role of policymaking 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 efforts of scientists to generate policy impact, because it neglects the role of 'user' policymaking organisations. The framework offered in the paper develops an argument about the essential role of institutional conditions of policy 'users' for scientific knowledge to achieve impact. The framework is informed by the reflexive institutionalist and the neo-institutionalist theoretical approaches. Its main contribution is in outlining the intra- and inter-organisational conditions of policymaking organisations, along with personal characteristics of individual policy officials that influence the likelihood of scientific knowledge to generate conceptual impact. We also offer an operationalisation of the framework. 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.