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Reference Number ES/S007024/1
Title Centre for the Evaluation of Complexity Across the Nexus (CECAN)
Status Completed
Energy Categories OTHER CROSS-CUTTING TECHNOLOGIES or RESEARCH(Environmental, social and economic impacts) 5%;
Research Types Basic and strategic applied research 100%
Science and Technology Fields SOCIAL SCIENCES (Economics and Econometrics) 25%;
SOCIAL SCIENCES (Politics and International Studies) 50%;
SOCIAL SCIENCES (Sociology) 25%;
UKERC Cross Cutting Characterisation Sociological economical and environmental impact of energy (Policy and regulation) 100%
Principal Investigator Professor GN Gilbert
No email address given
University of Surrey
Award Type Standard
Funding Source ESRC
Start Date 01 March 2019
End Date 28 February 2022
Duration 36 months
Total Grant Value £622,886
Industrial Sectors
Region South East
Programme Economic, Performance & Environment
Investigators Principal Investigator Professor GN Gilbert , Sociology, University of Surrey (99.989%)
  Other Investigator Professor S Hartley , Biology, University of York (0.001%)
Dr LE Varga , School of Management, Cranfield University (0.001%)
Dr C J Elsenbroich , Sociology, University of Surrey (0.001%)
Mr BCB Shaw , Sociology, University of Surrey (0.001%)
Dr AS Penn , Sociology, University of Surrey (0.001%)
Professor RS MacKay , Mathematics, University of Warwick (0.001%)
Dr E Uprichard , Centre for Interdisc. Methodologies, University of Warwick (0.001%)
Professor J Phillipson , Sch of Natural Sciences & Env Sciences, Newcastle University (0.001%)
Mr I Christie , Centre for Environment & Sustainabilit, University of Surrey (0.001%)
Professor B Castellani , Sociology, Durham University (0.001%)
Professor DS Byrne , Sociology, Durham University (0.001%)
Web Site
Objectives The overall objective of CECAN is to transform the practice of policy evaluation in Nexus areas, to make it fit for a complex world. We have made advances in the first phase of CECAN, but much still remains to be done to secure the long-term impacts and ensure maximum return for the investment.CECAN 2 will deepen and accelerate the transformation begun in 2016, by:1. Extending complexity appropriate approaches and methods across the policy cycle, providing a coherent and agile approach to the development, monitoring, implementation and evaluation of policy2. Broadening the reach of CECAN innovations from the Nexus to other policy areas3. Promoting joined-up governance and agile policy making across government and non-governmental organisations4. Ensuring the long-term sustainability of the Centre.In doing so, the Centre will continue and extend the work of CECAN 1 in:1. Leadership: Provide practical and intellectual leadership and an international focus for the development of innovative approaches to policy evaluation and complexity2. Methodological innovation: Develop concepts and methods for complex policy evaluation based on an understanding of user needs3. Methodological application: Explore the application of complexity appropriate methods with policy-makers and analysts in departmental and agency settings4. Capacity building: Build capacity to use these methods among policy-makers, evaluation practitioners and researchers.In order to achieve this and to obtain long-term sustainability, CECAN 2 will recruit central, regional and local government departments and other public, private and third sector organisations to sponsor its activities and to contribute to its funding.In CECAN 1, a range of methods have been developed, tried and tested in case studies and our learning synthesised in a draft Annex to the government's Magenta Book. The methods developed for evaluation are also relevant to ex ante policy analysis such as policy appraisal and in CECAN 2 we shall aim to extend our scope to the whole of the policy cycle, including seeking to enhance the Green and Aqua Books by contributing to future editions.The focus on the Nexus has helped CECAN to work on a set of coherent, interlinked case studies. This has allowed for depth in the application of the methods and a clear understanding of the potential of complexity methods in policy making. In CECAN 2, three long term and highly significant policy areas will be considered: the 25 Year Environment Plan, the Industrial Strategy (and the closely related Clean Growth Plan) and Exit of the UK from the EU. Each of these is a long term strategy of immense importance to the UK and, critically to delivery of outcomes, having a high level of interconnectedness across government departments, arms length bodies and the private sector. In effect they constitute a new 'policy Nexus', which maps in complex ways to the energy-water-food-environment Nexus issues with which they will be dealing. Complex systems concepts and tools are thus highly appropriate to the policy challenges and ambitions set out in these major new Government strategies. We would also look to the UK's part in addressing global challenges such as climate change and the broader SDGs.Extending our network will maximise the impact of CECAN 2: we want to extend the benefits and opportunities of our complexity-focussed approach to other Government departments, to departmental Arm's Length Bodies, and to other organisations, including businesses and NGOs.We aim to accompany this with an enhanced programme of capacity building, based on the CECAN 1 complexity evaluation syllabus, which will be employed as the basis for training courses and for workshops targeted not only to central government policy analysts, but also to other tiers of government, third sector organisations and evaluation practitioners.
Abstract Responding to the increasing recognition of complexity of policy and policy implementation, CECAN produced innovation in policy evaluation for policies relating to energy, food, water and the environment (the 'Nexus'). CECAN developed and extended methods for policy evaluation, established case study based co-production between researchers, evaluation practitioners, policy makers and analysts and evolved an agile, problem driven way of running a multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary centre. While having produced high impact work (see Part 3: Key outputs and impacts to date), the kind of transformation CECAN set out to bring about is not achievable in 30 months. CECAN 2 is a consolidation of previous achievements, and a response to insights gained in the first phase and to new challenges faced by the UK. It will allow the Centre to develop and implement its innovations, knowledge exchange and co-production, with the goal of operating sustainably in the long term.CECAN 2 is particularly timely as a number of drivers are coinciding to make complexity appropriate approaches to appraisal and evaluation ever more vital. Brexit is the most complex policy and regulatory change in the UK for decades, with associated impacts on the potentially increasingly divergent relationship between the devolved nations. The issue of "big data", both its opportunities and risks, is rarely far from the news, so a key future challenge is data linkage across Government departments and sectors, particularly in the context of public-private partnerships and hybrid models. Indirect and unintended effects are increasingly being demonstrated across the Nexus: for example, declines in rural infrastructure have adverse consequences for both the environment (more car transport) and health/wellbeing (more isolation and loneliness). Larger-scale and longer-term approaches are urgently needed to account for the cumulative impact of policies and "knock-on" effects across sectors. Finally, decision-making in both the public and private sector will be severely impacted by increasing automation, with currently unknown consequences for governance. Current Government management processes are not well-equipped to deal with these multiple challenges and urgently need to have evaluation and complexity thinking more embedded within them. CECAN 2 aims to ensure that the practitioners and policy-makers we engage with are equipped with the best methods to negotiate this future complexity .The work envisaged for CECAN 2 is organised into five streams:1: Exploring the contribution that complexity-appropriate evaluation methods can make across the full policy cycle.2: CECAN Methods Innovation Lab: delivering innovation in complexity-appropriate evaluation methods by exploration of the full range of new and emerging methods.3: Real world testing and refining of complexity-appropriate evaluation methods to co-produce solutions to the evaluation challenges posed by complexity in policy making and analysis.4: Building individual and institutional capacity to deliver complexity-appropriate policy analysis5: Securing CECAN's future, using ESRC's Centre Transition Funding to deepen existing partnerships and build new ones to secure alternative and long-term funding for CECAN's work.
Publications (none)
Final Report (none)
Added to Database 25/03/19