Policy Based Evidence,
Utilising a case study of EBP commissioned by government we explore how academic
outputs can serve several purposes depending on the political milieu and the values and ideologies of any given party. In the context of significant policy change for lone parents in Ireland which saw the introduction of labour market activation our
commissioned research was being carried out. The research was initially used by the
then Government to appease the opposition to the highly emotive policy change.
Following a general election, Opposition and Advocacy groups called on policy-makers
to acknowledge the report they had commissioned. Concepts of research(er) deficit,
normative reality and a shifting 'policy agora' are explored to highlight how the political
context shaped the uptake of the research findings. We followed the debate by drawing
on publicly available documentary evidence relevant to the policy of lone parent
activation in Ireland from pertinent parliamentary and committee debates involving all
stakeholders, that is the Government, civil servants, Opposition and advocacy groups,
to ascertain what happened with the research and why did it happen. Attention is given to the consequences of producing outputs that diverge with political values and ideologies, whereby research can be subject to manipulation to discredit and invalidate findings.