Can a policy brief be an effective tool for policy influence?
3ie and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), in collaboration with Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), explored the effectiveness of a policy brief for influencing readers’ beliefs and prompting them to act.
A multi-armed randomised control design was used to find answers to three research questions: Do policy briefs influence readers? Does the presence of an op-ed type commentary within the brief lead to more or less influence? and Does it matter if the commentary is assigned to a well known name in the field?
- A policy brief is more effective in creating ‘evidence-accurate’ beliefs amongst those with no prior opinion
- Messengers matter when it comes to readers’ intended actions
- Gender and self-perceived levels of influence affect people’s intention to act after reading the policy brief
Implications for policy communication
- Ensure policy briefs have clear key messages
- Include opinion and authority features as they may help to ensure briefs are shared and passed on
- Consider whether a policy brief’s design or format is less appealing to women and/or makes them less inclined to take action
- Target the ‘movers and shakers’