The literature on the evidence-policy nexus has been dominated in recent years by technocratic approaches such as ‘knowledge translation’. Attention is beginning to return, however, to political science for its insights into the distribution of power, which are key to understanding how policy is made, particularly in the health sphere. Policy network theory, which suggests that policy outcomes are shaped by the interactions between actors in a network, points to the configuration of networks as an important focus of study. However, policy outcomes also depend on the agency of the actors themselves; actors who use language to frame issues in certain ways in order to create change. While ‘policy networks’ and ‘policy frames’ have each received attention, there is a need for analytical tools which allow us to examine the interaction between network structure and frames. The paper describes a novel approach to aligning network structure and frames, which we tested using a single policy case study analysing submissions to a specific policy process. Overlaying policy frames with a network map, we were able to identify ‘boundary spanners’ who could connect the agendas of different parts of the network. We explain our analytic approach and the technical tools available to support it, and encourage researchers interested in the interface between evidence and policy to build on this approach.
Evelyne de Leeuw
Evelyne de LeeuwCentre for Health Equity Research, Training and Evaluation UNSW, Division of Population Health South Western Sydney Local Health District, a member of the Ingham Institute, Australia