Shaping the impact: the institutional context of parliamentary technology assessment

Agosto 2003

Laura Cruz-Castro and Luis Sanz-Menéndez

Publicado en M. Decker y M. Ladikas, comps., Bridges between Science, Society and Policy. Technology Assessment: Methods and Impacts, 101-127, Berlin-Heidelberg-New York: Springer-Verlag, 2004.

This paper analyses, from an institutionalist perspective, the emergence, nature and ways in which Parliamentary “scientific and technological advice” activities are carried out in different European countries. We argue that the connection of Technology Assessment (TA) with the political process can only be understood if this type of information resource is regarded not only as an input in the decision-making process but also as a legitimising mechanism. Some local pre-conditions are important for the emergence of these practices, as well as the existence of some political entrepreneurs willing to advance the initiatives within their respective political systems. Two different models of arrangements of Parliamentary TA are identified, the instrumental and the discursive one. The adaptation, consolidation and differential impact of these information production practices are mediated by two factors: the capacity of PTA organisations to gain support both inside and outside the Legislature, and their capacity to access decision-makers in an environment of competition with other organisations that also produce TA. The two models have both types of these capacities in differing degrees. It is argued that differences in impact are to be analysed in the context of the rules of the political game and the types of incentives that TA organisations face.