Knowledge mobilisation in public service reform – integrating empirical, technical and practical wisdom

Bynner, C. and Terje, A. (2020) Knowledge mobilisation in public service reform – integrating empirical, technical and practical wisdom. Evidence and Policy: A Journal of Research, Debate and Practice, (doi: 10.1332/174426419X15757178659704) (Early Online Publication)

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Abstract

Background: Public service practitioners on all levels aim to solve increasingly complex policy problems by making use of different forms of evidence. While there are many complex models of knowledge mobilisation, not enough attention is paid to the types of knowledge that are mobilised for public service reform. Ward (2017) has returned to Aristotle’s knowledge types; empirical, technical and practice wisdom, to address this gap. Aims and objectives: This paper applies the theoretical work of Ward (2017) and Flyvbjerg (2001) to the everyday work and practice of frontline public service providers with the aim of identifying core elements of knowledge mobilisation in the practice of public service reform in the context of local governance. Methods: The data is from a case study of a Scottish local authority conducted as part of the What Works Scotland research programme. The paper derives insights from 16 qualitative interviews with service providers in housing, waste management, policing and greenspace services, and 12 observations, analysed using thematic analysis. Findings The findings suggest that empirical or technical knowledge is not sufficient on its own for sustainable solutions to localised policy problems. The practice wisdom of service providers, balancing ethical concerns with diverse perspectives, is a form of knowledge that is not fully valued or recognised in public service reform. Discussion and conclusions: Future research should aim to understand how the integration of empirical, technical and practice knowledge might be achieved through more co-productive relationships between researchers, knowledge mobilisers and service providers.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Early Online Publication
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Terje, Miss Anna and Bynner, Dr Claire
Authors: Bynner, C., and Terje, A.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Social Scientists working in Health and Wellbeing
College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences
Journal Name:Evidence and Policy: A Journal of Research, Debate and Practice
Publisher:The Policy Press
ISSN:1744-2648
ISSN (Online):1744-2656
Published Online:21 January 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © Policy Press 2019
First Published:First published in Evidence and Policy: A Journal of Research, Debate and Practice 2020
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
190851What Works ScotlandNicholas WatsonEconomic and Social Research Council (ESRC)ES/M003922/1S&PS - Institute of Health & Wellbeing (Social Sciences)