The research-policy nexus

A new research area aims to explore the relationship between research and policy-making. As a point of departure, a review of the literature was undertaken in order to map the field.

The first of two mini case studies has been completed, namely that on the arts and culture policy sector in South Africa. The second case study will focus on the higher education policy sector. The mini case studies will address the following key questions:

  1. What is the ‘knowledge policy’ of the policy-maker (i.e. unit or department)?
  2. Who are the knowledge providers?
  3. How does the relationship between research and policy-making work (in terms of structure and relationships)?


The research–policy nexus:
Mapping the terrain of the literature
by Tracy Bailey


Despite an emphasis on using social research as an important component of policy development, implementation and evaluation, there has been widespread recognition that research is seldom used in the ways in which researchers and policy-makers hope and expect. The primary purpose of this paper is to provide a foundation of ideas and perspectives for the identification of research projects that focus on the interface between the production of knowledge and its utilisation in the formulation, implementation and evaluation of policy. As such, the aim of the review is to ‘map the terrain’ of the literature that pertains to the research-policy nexus, and to provide an overview of the main issues and themes that emerge in this literature.

At arm's length:
The relationship between research and policy in arts and culture, 1992-2007
by Harriet Deacon


Many countries have moved towards promoting the practice of evidence-based policy-making, While there has been considerable work on the research–policy nexus elsewhere, very little work has looked specifically at developing countries. Specifically, there has been little attention paid to understanding the relationship between research and policy in the field of arts and culture in developing countries. This paper examines the various ways in which the South African Department of Arts and Culture and some of its provincial counterparts, have conceived of and used research in the formulation of arts and culture policy in South Africa since 1994.