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Title:Evidence-based policy development in South Africa: the case of provincial growth and development strategies
Authors:Marais, LochnerISNI
Matebesi, Zacheus
Periodical:Urban Forum (ISSN 1874-6330)
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:regional government
government policy
External link:https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12132-012-9179-4
Abstract:The concept of evidence-based policymaking has risen to prominence internationally. This paper briefly traces the history and ideological paradigms associated with evidence-based policymaking. Then the international experience in respect of evidence-based policymaking is discussed. Finally, the paper turns to an evaluation of the degree to which evidence-based policymaking has been entrenched in the development of provincial growth and development strategies in South Africa. It is found that the concept of evidence-based policymaking is not well developed at provincial level. Inhibiting factors at the provincial government level include the reality that research is seldom institutionalized, the relationship between policymaking and research is seldom understood, academic research is viewed as not being relevant to the policymaking process, there is a lack of in-house research capacity and funding resulting in poor quality, research brings conflicting results which are difficult to interpret, there are concerns around research authenticity and legitimacy, and an overall lack of strategic thinking about research at provincial level. A range of barriers at research institutions were also identified, including the fact that the formal way in which academic research is published and disseminated is not always 'friendly' to policymakers, researchers view academic research and policymaking as a linear process, not all provinces have universities, research is mainly orientated around the discipline of economics, the fact that universities are accountable to national government and not provincial government, and limited links between researchers and policymakers. Aspects such as an entrenched research culture, an acknowledgment of the importance of research in policymaking, the utilization of international and national research institutions, the ability of researchers to understand the policymaking process, and the availability of a research agenda for provinces were mentioned as factors contributing to evidence-based policmaking. In conclusion, the paper argues that space should be created to evaluate provincially based research findings, and partnerships between universities and provincial planning units are crucial. Bibliogr., sum. [Journal abstract]