The Policy Lab explores public policy decision making, policy design, and how we know what's working.
About the Policy Lab
The aim of The Policy Lab is to address contemporary challenges of politics and policy-making by building a program of research centred on three main themes: opinion and expertise in politics and policy, policy systems, and projects that deal with specific issues and policy sectors.
Related to these areas, The Policy Lab explores three core questions:
- what shapes policy decisions?
- how do policy systems and processes operate?
- what works in policy design?
Questions the Policy Lab asks
What shapes policy decisions?
The Policy Lab explores how we get the policy we get. It specialises in the study of public policy that addresses complex societal problems and the local effects of large scale shifts and global trends. Its research considers policy framing, the use of expertise, the impact of public opinion, different types of individual and collective actors, and how institutional and contextual factors shape policy decisions.
How do policy systems and processes operate?
The Policy Lab examines policy systems. Public policymaking is widely understood as a structured and logical process of problem solving led by the government. Yet the actual practice of policymaking is often far more complex. Through examining policy systems in a variety of contexts, The Policy Lab provides informed understandings of how policymaking works in practice.
What works in policy design?
The Policy Lab uses sophisticated methods to assess the impact of policy design and decisions. This includes studying policies in motion and adjusting these as they are being implemented, as well as behavioural experiments, computer modelling, and large scale comparative analysis of quantitative data. The Policy Lab team holds expertise and experience in a range of policy sectors, including health, employment, education, environment, and social services.
How the Policy Lab works
The Policy Lab uses surveys to identify and assess attitudes to policy. It also uses survey data to compare the effects of different policies on individuals, organisations and governments, in different contexts.
Design and field experiments
The Policy Lab employs rigorous methods to design, conduct and evaluate experiments to discover what supports innovation in the public sector and how these practices can be tested and sustained.
Laboratory and survey experiments
The Policy Lab applies behavioural science approaches to politics and policy to understand how different individuals and groups of people make choices and negotiate solutions to problems. The team does this using laboratory settings and via survey experiments.
Model building and testing
The Policy Lab combines existing data sets with new purpose-driven survey data, theory-based group discussion, active lab collaborations and primary field experiments to model and test conceptual assumptions. This leads to reconfiguring assumptions based on experimental data and through agile methodology and design thinking.