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What prevents organisations from using more evidence and RCTs?

Last May the Innovation Growth Lab (IGL) hosted an international conference to discuss experimentation in innovation, entrepreneurship and growth policy. The event showcased the widespread interest in using more evidence in policy-making, as well as evaluating programmes via rigorous methods such as randomised controlled trials (RCTs). At IGL, we have long argued for a more experimental innovation and growth policy (for instance, here, here and here).

Yet we find that many organisations are still reticent to apply these methods and, more generally, to use evidence to inform their policies.

What prevents organisations from using more evidence and RCTs?

Given IGL’s role in promoting RCTs, we set out to find why this is the case, and what can be done about it. At the IGL conference we asked the audience what the main barrier to experimentation in their organisation was, and the most popular answer was “institutional status quo”. Other informal conversations revealed that public sector organisations are often afraid of the political backlash of randomising, or often begin thinking about evaluation only once the programme is up and running.

We wanted to dig deeper into this question and decided to launch a survey.

Our survey

The survey is aimed not only at policy-makers and practitioners working in policy organisations, but also academics, researchers in think-tanks and other organisations, and anyone who has had direct experience with the policy process. If this is the case for you, you can help us by taking part in the survey. IGL’s work focuses on innovation, entrepreneurship and growth, but we welcome views from other fields as well.

The survey should take no longer than 7 minutes and it will be open until 15 September. All answers will be kept confidential.

The results will inform our work and help us develop solutions to address these issues. We will also publish a breakdown of the results and an analysis on our website. If you are interested in hearing more about this project, you can keep updated by signing up to IGL’s monthly newsletter.

If aside from filling in the survey you are up for an informal chat on the topic, we would love to hear from you; feel free to get in touch with us directly at [email protected]. You can also write to us with any questions or comments about the survey or our research.

Photo credit: Stocksnap, Pixabay (CC)


Teo Firpo

Teo Firpo

Teo Firpo

Senior Researcher, Innovation Growth Lab

Teo is a Senior Researcher for the Innovation Growth Lab in Nesta’s Research, Analysis and Policy unit.

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