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The role of policy advisers in policy learning Wolfgang Polt- Joanneum Research Institute for Technology and Regional Policy

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Presentation on theme: "The role of policy advisers in policy learning Wolfgang Polt- Joanneum Research Institute for Technology and Regional Policy"— Presentation transcript:

1 The role of policy advisers in policy learning Wolfgang Polt- Joanneum Research Institute for Technology and Regional Policy 6CP Conference May 2006

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3 Structure of the presentation Definition of policy learning Barriers to policy learning How not to do policy learning What you need for policy learning Role of policy advisers in policy learning Policy advise in a systemic context

4 What is policy learning ? Policy learning is defined as all those processes by which policy systems generate and incorporate knowledge and understanding about (i) underlying causes and conditions of policies and initiatives (ii) the effects of policy and initiatives. This knowledge is derived throughout the policy cycle and policy learning provides feed-back to all stages (Hjelt et al., in OECD 2005: Governance of Innovation Systems, p.196)

5 Barriers to policy learning Reluctance to confront the past Communication failure(s) Lack of adoption capacity Loss of institutional memory

6 Reluctance to confront the past Why look back at old programmes / initiatives? We are forward looking ! Evaluations are dangerous because of potential negative outcomes Not making an experience, is not learning at all !§

7 Communication failure(s) Communicating in different codes Communicating not at all Not accepting or understanding different perspectives !

8 Lack of adoption capacities Policy stripped of ressources Information overflow Coordination overload Not being able to capitalize on available information !

9 Loss of institutional memory Loss of personell Institutional shake-ups Not being able to retain and pass on available knowledge !

10 How better not to learn … Path dependency of learning (Superstitious learning) Indicator driven policy (Superfical learning) Available information is processed, but without knowledgable interpretation !

11 What you need for policy learning Kens quadrants: Current Context Future Visions Past Actions Parallel Activities Policy Practice

12 What you need for policy learning Communication within a system of distributed strategic intelligence Needs knowledge infrastructures, institutions, openess, incentive structures, shared codes…

13 Role(s) of policy advisers The policy adviser as … the irritation of the system the process / communication enabler the information filter the store of information and knowledge

14 Role(s) of policy advisers The policy adviser as … the scapegoat the legitimizer the substitute policy maker

15 Policy advise in a systemic context The relation to policy makers: truth speaks to power? The policy advisor as an expert: in superior knowledge of the system? The policy maker: in posession of power?

16 Policy advise in a systemic context Analysing the RTDI policy system with the tools of system analysis Recognising the implications of the systemic character of policymaking: Inherent limitations on what we can know about a complex system Inherent limitation of communication between systems Inherent limits to foresee the effects of an intervention in a complex system

17 A sketch of the Austrian Institutional STI policy landscape

18 The Austrian System of IST / e-Government Policy Making (simplified version)

19 Policy advise in a systemic context Policy adviser as an expert on the subject matter of policy and the related policy process Policy adviser as a the one who asks the right questions – not the one providing the right answers from the position of superior knowledge Policy adviser in co-evolution with the clients system, i.e. change of roles in the policy cycle

20 Policy advise in a systemic context Policy adviser as an expert on the subject matter of policy and the related policy process Policy adviser as a the one who asks the right questions – not the one providing the right answers from the position of superior knowledge Policy adviser in co-evolution with the clients system, i.e. change of roles in the policy cycle Probably we need a rather fundamenal change of our perception of the role of policy advise

21 .. A last look back at the Austrian Info-Society case: successful policy learning ??

22 Thank you for your attention !


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