Duration: 2020-2021

A Comparative Study of Expertise for Policy During the COVID-19 Outbreak (CompCoRe)

Team: Ulrike Felt, Luca Lindner

Collaboration in Austria: University of Graz, Iris Eisenberger, Thomas Buacz and Nikolaus Pöchhacker

Project Description

The evolving COVID-19 pandemic casts a stark light on an enduring concern of STS scholars and policy makers: what makes expert knowledge credible, legitimate, and reliable for use in public policy (Jasanoff 1990; Hilgartner 2000; Felt et al. 2017)? That question becomes even more salient when, as in this case, events are fast-moving, proliferating under conditions of scientific and social uncertainty, and dispersed across geopolitical borders. As national and regional authorities struggle to avert catastrophic health and economic outcomes, their need for quick action stands in tension with their need for robust expert knowledge and convincing analysis. At the international and global levels, rapid and reliable cross-border transfer of knowledge and technology is crucial to coordinating policy; yet modes of identifying trustworthy sources of expertise remain largely vested in nations (Porter 1995), with their differing institutions, research traditions, cultural commitments, and civic epistemologies (Jasanoff 2005).

COVID-19 is unprecedented. Yet in a period of intensifying global concern about climate change, antimicrobial resistance, and pandemics, this case has enormous significance for future policy coordination. Cross-national comparison offers a powerful method for understanding the problems of translating knowledge into policy during global crises—and for identifying potential best practices.

CompCoRe is a cross-national study of the policy responses of 16 countries across five continents. Led by a team based at Harvard, Cornell and Arizona State Universities, CompCoRe is a collaborative undertaking involving more than 60 researchers from around the world. The participating countries are Australia, Austria, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The Austria team is consisting of members of the University of Vienna, STS Department, Ulrike Felt and Luca Lindner and of members of the University of Graz, Iris Eisenberger, Thomas Buacz and Nikolaus Pöchhacker.

Presentations and reports