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IP 6 (Phase I): Information on public performance - creation, diffusion, and utilization

Democratic political systems are increasingly not only judged by the quality of the decision-making process but also by their capacity to solve problems effectively. Recent reforms, such as new public management and evidence-based policy making, emphasize the relevance of systematic evidence concerning public performance to improve the state’s steering capabilities and legitimate its policies. In this context, the question of how systematic and transparent information about the efficiency and effectiveness of public policies is created, diffused and used has become highly relevant.

This project investigated the interdependencies among the processes of creation, diffusion and utilization of information about the performance of public policies. It focused on the following questions:

  • How is information about the performance of the public sector created?
  • How do the media (and other channels of communication) select and frame information about public performance for diffusion to citizens and decision?
  • How does the public sector use the information about its performance?

Six decision-making processes at the Swiss national level in three different policy fields (traffic safety, health and asylum policy) were selected to investigate these questions.

The research results will help journalists and policy makers to understand better their own role in policy making and to consider their handling of public performance information. Finally, producers of public performance indicators will be better informed about the processes of information diffusion and utilization, which will facilitate a better incorporation of applied research (e.g. evaluation studies) into the policy-making process.

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Project leaders:
PD Dr. Thomas Widmer, University of Zurich
Prof. Heinz Bonfadelli, University of Zurich

Doctoral students:
Kathrin Frey, University of Zurich
Mirella Schütz, University of Zurich