Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series,
IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy

No 2012:4: Towards reason: political disputes, public attention and the use of expert knowledge in policymaking

Martin Lundin () and PerOla Öberg ()
Additional contact information
Martin Lundin: IFAU - Institute for Labour Market Policy Evaluation, Postal: P O Box 513, SE-751 20 Uppsala, Sweden
PerOla Öberg: Department of government, Uppsala university, Postal: SE-751 20 Uppsala, Sweden

Abstract: This article examines expert knowledge utilization in public policy processes. We study how much expert knowledge is employed and the extent to which decision-makers deliberate on the information provided by the experts, under various conditions of political disputes and public attention. We suggest four hypotheses. It is proposed that expert knowledge will be used more, but that there will be less deliberation in situations of political disputes. It is also suggested that expert knowledge will be consulted more and the decision-makers will take a more deliberative approach when there is a lot of attention from citizens. Our empirical findings, based on original data from local politics in Sweden, are in line with the hypotheses. The findings highlight the importance of both studying the extent of expert knowledge use and the way expertise is utilized. Another important insight is that politics seem to matter in relation to the role expert knowledge plays in public policymaking.

Keywords: Expert knowledge; Public policy; Political disputes; Public attention; Deliberation; Local government Sweden

JEL-codes: H70; H83

31 pages, February 8, 2012

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