Implementing research findings into healthcare policy is an enduring challenge made even more difficult when policies must be developed and implemented with the help and support of multiple ideas, agendas and actors taking part in determinants of health. Only looking at mechanisms to feed policy-makers with evidence or to interest researchers in the policy process will simply bring partial clues; implementing evidence-based policy also requires organisations to lead and to partner in the production and intake of scientific evidence from academics and practical evidence from one another.
This Commentary argues for the need to better understand the capacities required by organisations to foster evidence-based policy in a dispersed environment. It proposes a framework of 11 brokering capacities for organisations involved in evidence-based policy. Eight of these capacities are informed by streams of research related to the roles of knowledge broker, innovation broker and policy broker. Three complementary brokering capacities are informed by our experience studying real-life evidence-based policies; these are capturing boundary knowledge, trending know-how on scientific and practical evidence-based policy, and conveying evidence outward.
Previous guidelines on brokering capacities focused on the individual level more than on the organisational level. Beyond the individual capacities of managers, designers and implementers of new policies, there is a need to identify and assess the brokering capacities of organisations involved in evidence-based policy. The three specific organisational brokering capacities for evidence-based policy that we present offer a means for policy-makers and policy designers to reflect upon favourable environments for evidence-based policy. These capacities could also help administrators and implementation scholars to think about and develop measurements to assess the quality and readiness of organisations involved in evidence-based policy design.