Academic knowledge brokering in local policy spaces: negotiating and implementing dynamic idea types

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Sarah Weakley University of Glasgow, UK

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David Waite University of Glasgow, UK

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Background:

Academic researchers are occupying more varied roles as both knowledge producers and knowledge brokers in policymaking spaces beyond the national level. As the local arena presents different dimensions to the knowledge-policy-practice nexus, an assessment of the interaction of evidence and policy at this scale is warranted.

Aims and objectives:

This paper considers how two early career researchers acted within two different policymaking spaces at the local level to: bring new and synthesised evidence to decisionmakers; respond to evidence and research requests from a diverse group of local actors; and serve as a critical friend.

Methods:

Autoethnography.

Findings:

We find that early career positionality presents common issues for policy engagement across the cases, however, the contexts necessarily differ due to the power of specific actors, the internal and external interests at play, and the varied relationships confronting the academics. Deploying Smith’s four ‘idea types’ as a framework, we draw attention to the shifting roles academics need to play given the churn between institutionalised ideas, critical ideas, charismatic ideas and chameleonic ideas.

Discussion and conclusion:

Agency, triggers and structural rigidities are key to the movement between idea types. Future research based on interviews with local policymakers may help to further reveal how shifts between idea types come about.

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Sarah Weakley University of Glasgow, UK

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David Waite University of Glasgow, UK

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