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  • Author or Editor: Jenny M Lewis x
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Authors: Jenny M. Lewis and Sandy Ross

The funding of research in universities is increasingly based on direction of resources in support of ‘excellence’. Funding decisions are linked to evaluation through research funding systems, but there has so far been little comparative empirical research on the perceived effects of these systems. This article reports on a study involving interviews with 274 academics at universities in Australia (Melbourne), New Zealand (Auckland) and the UK (Birmingham). Perceptions of the three research funding systems demonstrated significant differences across universities, and some interesting gender and seniority differences, but surprisingly little variance between humanities, science and social science disciplines.

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Responding to the need for innovation, governments have begun experimenting with ‘design thinking’ approaches to reframe policy issues and generate and test new policy solutions. This paper examines what is new about design thinking and compares this to rational and participatory approaches to policymaking, highlighting the difference between their logics, foundations and the basis on which they ‘speak truth to power’. It then examines the impact of design thinking on policymaking in practice, using the example of public sector innovation (PSI) labs. The paper concludes that design thinking, when it comes in contact with power and politics, faces significant challenges, but that there are opportunities for design thinking and policymaking to work better together.

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In recent years, design approaches to policymaking have gained popularity among policymakers. However, a critical reflection on their added value and on how contemporary ‘design-thinking’ approaches relates to the classical idea of public administration as a design science, is still lacking. This introductory paper reflects upon the use of design approaches in public administration. We delve into the more traditional ideas of design as launched by Simon and policy design, but also into the present-day design wave, stemming from traditional design sciences. Based upon this we distinguish between three ideal-type approaches of design currently characterising the discipline: design as optimisation, design as exploration and design as co-creation. More rigorous empirical analyses of applications of these approaches is necessary to further develop public administration as a design science. We reflect upon the question of how a more designerly way of thinking can help to improve public administration and public policy.

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