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Open Access The expertise of politicians and their role in epistemic communities

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This article is Open Access under the terms of the Creative Commons CC BY licence.

Existing studies often regard politicians as outside epistemic communities, owing to a lack of policy or technical expertise. In contrast, this article argues that politicians can also be experts, and can play a pivotal role within existing epistemic communities. Specifically, it finds that this expertise is acquired through two distinct, but interrelated, processes. First, politicians who work on an issue for a sustained period and have access to expert knowledge can be recruited to epistemic communities. Second, politicians with a relevant academic or professional background can become allies for such communities. This argument is developed through an analysis of pension reform in Norway. Drawing on interviews with key policy actors, we demonstrate that civil servants in the Ministry of Finance constituted an epistemic community which recruited key politicians through the Pension Commission and benefited from having an economist and ally as Prime Minister.
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Keywords: Norway; epistemic communities; expertise; ideas; pension reform; politicians

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 2019

This article was made available online on September 17, 2019 as a Fast Track article with title: "The expertise of politicians and their role in epistemic communities".

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