Policy analysis and policy work in federal systems: policy advice and its contribution to evidence-based policy-making in multi-level governance systems

Michael Howlett, Joshua Newman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

111 Citations (Scopus)


In most cases, policy scholars interested in the role of policy analysts in promoting and practicing evidence-based policy-making rely on very partial survey results, or on anecdotal case studies and interview research. Despite the existence of a large body of literature on policy analysis, large-scale empirical studies of the work of policy analysts are rare, and in the case of analysts working at the sub-national level, virtually non-existent. There has been very little research on this level of policy workers despite the significant powers they exercise in prominent federal systems such as the USA, Germany, Australia, Mexico, Russia, Brazil, Malaysia and Canada. This paper reports on the first comprehensive survey of the work of policy analysts at the provincial and territorial levels conducted in Canada in 2008-2009. It examines the background and training of provincial and territorial policy analysts, the types of techniques they employ in their jobs, and what they do in their work on a day-by-day basis. The resulting profile of sub-national policy analysts presented here reveals several substantial differences between analysts working for national governments and their sub-national counterparts, with important implications for policy training and practice, and for the ability of nations to improve their policy advice systems in order to better accomplish their long-term policy goals through the practice of evidence-based policy-making.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-136
Number of pages14
JournalPolicy and Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2010
Externally publishedYes

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