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Engineering advice in policy-making: a new domain of inquiry in evidence and policy

Cooper, A; Marvulli, L; Black, K; Holmes, J; Mehta, H; (2020) Engineering advice in policy-making: a new domain of inquiry in evidence and policy. Evidence and Policy 10.1332/174426420X15852883943798. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Background. Academic research on technical advice to policy commonly focuses on social and related policy areas such as health, education and crime (Oliver et al. 2014) and disciplinary advice from science disciplines (Jasanoff 1994; Millstone and van Zwanenberg 2001). Little or no prior research in the social sciences have explored engineering expertise in policy domains where such advice is critical (e.g. energy policy). Aims and objectives. We aim to establish ‘engineering advice’ as a new domain of inquiry by showing how civil servants view it as distinctive (from ‘science advice’), important and similar to policy making – implying it can clash or complement it. Methods. 18 qualitative interviews with a purposive sample of officials across a UK ministry were conducted by the authors (all but one of whom were civil servants) in 2012. The qualitative data were thematically coded to address the study aims. Findings. A majority of officials spontaneously identified engineering expertise as both distinctive and important for their work. There was clear evidence that it both complemented and clashed with policymaking. Discussion. We identified a range of interactions that imply a need to consider styles of management internal deployment of experts within policy organisations as well as the implications for policy making and engineering expertise given the way practices overlap. Conclusions. Further research on the ontological, epistemological nature of engineering as it relates to policy making is needed if governments and therefore society are to fully benefit from engineering advice.

Type: Article
Title: Engineering advice in policy-making: a new domain of inquiry in evidence and policy
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1332/174426420X15852883943798
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1332/174426420X15852883943798
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: engineering advice; evidence-based policy making; expertise; science advice
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > STEaPP
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10094114
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