Synthesizing Politics, Rationality and Advocacy: Energy Policy Analysis for Minority Groups

J.A. Throgmorton. 1989. Policy Studies Review 8, 2: 300-321.

This paper explores the interaction between three primary activities (political influence, scientific analysis, and advocacy) in the practice of policy analysis. After arguing that successful practice depends on the ability of policy analysts to synthesize those three activities, the paper describes and critiques one analytical team’s recent efforts to define the impacts of federal energy policy and programs on minority groups. It reports that the analytical team failed to maintain critical distance from its client and to communicate effectively with its lay constituency; acting as a “client advocate,” the team unintentionally but systematically distorted knowledge concerning minorities and energy. The paper concludes by urging analysts to recognize that they have three distinct audiences (clients, technical peers, and lay constituencies) and that successful analysis depends on communicating honestly and openly with each of them.

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