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The evidence-policy interface in strategic waste planning for urban environments: The 'technical' and the 'social' dimensions

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Simin Davoudi



In the last decade there has been an upsurge in governmental interest in evidence-based policy, coupled with an emphasis on a utilitarian view of research. This emphasis on research for the benefit of policy has contributed to the highly selective nature of the construction of knowledge on urban environments, with those areas that have not been regarded as a policy problem failing to attract investment in research. Strategic waste planning has been a striking example of such policy areas. The first part of this paper provides an overview of the disjuncture between policy and evidence and argues that the lack of research has contributed to the underdevelopment of intellectual capital in this field. This overview sets the context for the second and third parts of the paper which draw on a case study of recent attempts to improve the evidence base for urban waste policy at the regional level. The author examines the interface between the technical and the social dimensions of knowledge production and knowledge transfer as experienced in the work of the Regional Technical Advisory Body (RTAB) in the North West of England. By drawing on five basic tenets of technical rationality, the author provides a critical analysis of how the NWRTAB's adoption of a predominantly technical - rational approach affected the dynamics of knowledge - policy interplay. It is argued that technical rationality proved to be inadequate in satisfying some of the rhetorical expectations that are often associated with it, and which help perpetuate its continuing popularity among professionals and policymakers.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Davoudi S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy

Year: 2006

Volume: 24

Issue: 5

Pages: 681-700

ISSN (print): 0263-774X

ISSN (electronic):

Publisher: Pion Ltd.


DOI: 10.1068/c0609j


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