|C-Cat by Becky Zimmerman|
Cairney delves into EBPM with the general approach that, “if you want to inject more science into policymaking, you need to know the science of policymaking.” It contrasts the idealistic linear view of researchers, with the chaotic reality of policy making. Policymaking isn’t a Modrian, it’s a Monet.
The fundamental approach of EBPM is that policy can, and should, be evidence based. However, Cairney notes this is a problematic start and instead describes EBPM as an aspirational term. To complicate things, there is no single definition of policy, policymakers or evidence. Cairney suggests the following:
- Policy – “the sum total of government action, from signals of intent to final outcomes”
- Policymakers – “the people who make policy” who are either elected or unelected, and either people or organisations
- Evidence – “an argument or assertion backed by information” broadly
For a pure form of EBPM to exist, which he argues it does not, Cairney suggests it would have to meet the following assumptions (I've added in brackets how the assumptions don't fit IP):
- The values of society are reflected in the values of policymakers (what are our social values for IP? are they consistent?)
- A small number of policymakers control the policy process from its centre (in the UK alone, IP is subject to the UK IPO, EU IPO, EPO, WIPO, border force, police force, the courts...)
- We can separate the values, required by policymakers to identify their aims, from the facts produced by organisations to assess the best way to achieve them (research, by lobbyists and academics alike, begins from a certain point of view, separating 'facts' from values is difficult)
- An organisation acts optimally by ranking its aims according to its leader's preferences and undertaking a comprehensive search for information (what is the most important IP issue at the moment? how long is it likely to be considered the 'most important'?)
- Policy is made in a 'linear' way: policymakers identify their aims, the bureaucracy produces a list of all ways to deliver those aims, and the policymakers selects the best solution (try to describe, for example, the policymaking process of the Unitary Patent as 'linear.')
- Even if 'the evidence' exists, it doesn't tell you what to do
- The demand for evidence does not match the supply
- Policymakers make choices in a complex policymaking system in which the role of evidence is unclear
|Barbarella as a cat|
The book's observations will not surprise the good civil servants at national and international IP organisations. However, it is somewhat jarring to see the process spelled out. Don't worry EBPM, I'm still a believer.
"The Politics of Evidence-Based Policy Making," by Paul Cairney, Palsgrave Pivot, 2015 is available for £45 hardcover and £30 e-book. Rupture factor: Low, this pretty little book is just under 140 pages.