This is one of those dense academic papers that might seem to use arcane processes to get at the blindingly obvious. However, there are gems of great information within it so we advise you to stick with it. Published in the May 2013 Globalization and Health, it’s got the uncatchy title of Understanding how and why health is integrated into foreign policy – a case study of health is global, a UK Government Strategy 2008–2013

The paper will be particularly useful to foundations and NGOs suffering from the delusion that data drives policy. The authors conclude, “drawing on conclusions derived from the application of Kingdon’s model, policy is primarily the result of politics, policy entrepreneurs and the convergence of the three streams and not the result of research evidence per se. The interview data corroborates this conclusion. To repeat one particularly relevant comment, ‘my personal take is that there’s kind of a political rationale that’s important in understanding why this has happened rather than being evidence based. To the extent that it is evidence-based, it’s evidence of emerging infectious diseases’.”

It will also be useful to those who think that NGOs and academia set the agenda. The paper says, “while non-state actors provide important inputs into the process, the final negotiation of the content of the strategy takes place among state actors, in particular those representing health, foreign affairs and development government departments which, assuming that there is political will behind the policy direction, are compelled to arrive at a strategy within a given timeframe that is acceptable to all relevant government actors.”

The major weakness of the work is that none of the 20 interviews were with politicians (they found them inaccessible). However, our 2012 study on the future of European ODA (www.europeanoda.com) did include long market research interviews with politicians and comes to similar conclusions (albeit we did not provide the sophisticated academic analysis). Here’s a link to the UK section

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