Lost in Translation? The relationship between homelessness research and policy in Wellington, New Zealand
This thesis aims to investigate the ways in which research is utilised in the emerging decentralised, participatory policy-making context in New Zealand. An in-depth study of a particular research-policy relationship is presented, exploring the impact of a public health research project on homelessness in Wellington upon the development of homelessness policy by a local inter-sectoral network. The translation of evidence into policy is a neglected area of research in public health, particularly in regard to research audiences outside the health sector. Both sides of this particular research-policy nexus are examined. On the research side, the findings of the original public health study are described, in order to provide a backdrop of the ideas that entered the policy process. These findings include a typology of pathways into homelessness and a public health framework for a comprehensive and integrated set of responses to homelessness. The utilisation of this research by its intended audience was investigated through participant observation, which allowed a detailed analysis of the policy-making process in context, the many tacit effects of research on policy-making, and the role of the researcher within this process. The research was found to be used in five distinct ways: to shape the structure of the group; conceptually; for legitimation; as a reference point; and as a networking tool. Strong researcher-user relationships enhanced ownership and use of the research; individual interests and structural constraints shaped its translation into policy. Language plays a key role in framing policy debate and responses. Conflicting frames of reference create inertia and hamper effective collaboration. Researchers have an important role in generating a common language for policy dialogue. Strong, ongoing relationships with policy-makers can enhance the use of evidence, improve the policy process, and extend the reach of research to new and diverse audiences.
Advisor: Baker, Michael; Howden-Chapman, Philippa
Degree Name: Bachelor of Medical Science with Honours
Degree Discipline: Department of Public Health / Wellington School of Medicine and Health Sciences
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: homelessness; translational research; policy; new zealand; housing
Research Type: Thesis