The concept of the political settlement has risen to occupy a central place in British policy toward conflict-affected and fragile states. Yet, at around the turn of the millennium, the term was barely mentioned in official circles and the so-called ‘good governance’ approach
held sway as the dominant operational mode. So, how had this transformation in policy approach come about and what was the role of research? In this article, we demonstrate that research played a central role in influencing the rhetoric of policymakers through a process we term ‘cumulative
influence’. Indeed, the subject of political settlements represents an excellent case study for understanding the dynamics of research utilisation. It allows us to build on existing models and suggest useful ways forward in this important area of public policy analysis.
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