Maximizing the Policy Impacts of Public Engagement: A European Study


There is a lack of published evidence which demonstrates the impacts of public engagement in science and technology policy. This might represent the failure of PE to achieve policy impacts or indicate a lack of effective procedures for discerning the uptake by policy makers of PE-derived outputs. While efforts have been made to identify and categorize different types of policy impact, research has rarely attempted to link policy impact with PE procedures, political procedures, or the connections between them. In this article, we propose a simple conceptual model to capture this information, based on semistructured interviews with both policy makers and PE practitioners. A range of criteria are identified to increase the policy impact of PE. The role of PE practitioners in realizing impacts through their interactions with policy makers in the informal “in-between” spaces of public engagement is emphasized. However, the potential contradictions between the pursuit of policy impacts and the more traditional conceptualizations of PE effectiveness are discussed. The main barrier to the identification of policy impacts from PE may lie within policy processes themselves. Political institutions have responsibility to establish formalized procedures for monitoring the uptake and use of evidence from PE in their decision-making processes.

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Henk Mulder
University of Amsterdam

References found in this work

A Typology of Public Engagement Mechanisms.Lynn J. Frewer & Gene Rowe - 2005 - Science, Technology, and Human Values 30 (2):251-290.
Public Participation Methods: A Framework for Evaluation.Lynn J. Frewer & Gene Rowe - 2000 - Science, Technology, and Human Values 25 (1):3-29.
Evaluating Public-Participation Exercises: A Research Agenda.Lynn J. Frewer & Gene Rowe - 2004 - Science, Technology, and Human Values 29 (4):512-556.

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