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Understanding the organisational context for evidence-informed policy-making

Working paper

Written by Louise Shaxson

Working paper

Efforts to improve the use of evidence in government policy-making across the world have tended to focus on different groups and organisations. But while a good deal of work has been done to improve the supply of evidence from entities such as research centres and academia, less attention has been paid to improving demand for, and use of, evidence by government policy-makers.

This working paper describes the framework used by a team of ODI researchers and officials from the South African Department of Environmental Affairs to analyse how DEA’s internal structures and processes and the external policy environment in South Africa affect how its policy-makers source and use evidence. This paper outlines, systematically, the detail of the issues we believe to be important to understanding how and why a government department operates when it comes to evidence, drawing on the authors’ direct experiences of working on evidence in the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and DEA.

This is the first in a series of documents that have been developed as part of the VakaYiko Consortium project, supporting DEA in South Africa as it embeds and enhances an evidence-informed approach to policy-making. It has been jointly produced by a team from DEA and from ODI. Other documents in the series include:

Louise Shaxson, Ajoy Datta, Mapula Tshangela and Bongani Matomela