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Pourquoi s'intéresser à la notion d'"Evidence -based policy" ?

Laurent, Catherine and Baudry, Jacques and Berrier-Solliec, Marielle and Kirsch, Marc and Perraud, Daniel and Tinel, Bruno and Trouvé, Aurélie and Allsopp, Nicky and Bonnafous, Partrick and Burel, Françoise and Carneiro, Maria Jose and Giraud, Christophe and Labarte, Pierre and Matose, Frank and Ricroch, Agnès (2009): Pourquoi s'intéresser à la notion d'"Evidence -based policy" ? Published in: Revue Tiers Monde No. 200 (December 2009): pp. 853-873.

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"Evidence-based medicine” approaches began to be formalized in the early 1990s to promote a conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current best evidence in decision-making on care for individual patients. These approaches were subsequently extended to other spheres of public decision (education, justice, environment, poverty alleviation, etc.), giving birth to the concept of "evidence-based policy” (EBP). In the Francophone world, with the exception of the medical sector, these approaches are not well known. This is partly a problem of translation. In French, no concept associates the idea of empirical corroboration with that of proof, unlike English where they are both encapsulated in the word "evidence". The lack of familiarity with EBP also results from an intellectual tradition that is suspicious of simplistic pragmatisms in public action, which are believed to favour a principle of immediate effectiveness, regardless of the multiple dimensions of such action. The increasing use of the EBP concept is consequently often equated to mere rhetoric or to an attempt to depoliticize the debate by defending a normative model of decision-making grounded in the rational choice theory. This article presents a critical analysis of the debates on EBP. It shows how these debates argue for a renewal of positive approaches to public decision-making, primarily by proposing methods that facilitate circulation within the realm of existing knowledge, and that assess the quality of the empirical content of that knowledge. The article emphasizes the point that such debates contributes to offering an alternative to the increasing use of knowledge models based too exclusively on expert opinions or simulations that disclaim empirical validation tests. Finally, it suggests the need for more in-depth reflection on the types of evidence and the levels of proof that could support the design, implementation and evaluation of public policies, and points to some paths in that direction.

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