The Study of Critical Realism Implications in Evaluation of Science, Technology and Innovation Policy Making

Document Type : Research Paper


1 PhD., Department of Science and Technology Policy-making, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

2 Prof., Department of Public Administration and Public Policy-Making, Faculty of Management and Economics, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran

3 Assistant Prof., Department of Public Administration and Policy-Making, Faculty of Management, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran


Objective: The purpose of this study is to identify and extract the implications of critical realism for science, technology and innovation policy-making as one of the later research traditions in social sciences. Nevertheless, its main focus, according to the different stages of the policy-making cycle and extent of its contributing factors, is on the stage of "policy evaluation".
Methods: This research has been conducted based on the methodology of implication-research studies. In implication-research studies which are common in social sciences, researchers try to find implications from a social philosophy, framework, theory and or a model for their professional or specialized discipline. Accordingly, the authors first identified and extracted the elements of critical realism (emphasizing Roy Bhaskar's critical realism) and verified them consulting experts of the social sciences and philosophy of the method. Then, the implications of these elements have been extracted for the stage of evaluation of the science, technology and innovation policy and have been verified and confirmed by interdisciplinaryexperts.
Results: The implications found in the current research showed that critical realism can be useful both in previous evaluations in which counterfactual investigations cannot be done based on deductive and inductive methods and in the future evaluations where the analysis of the relationship between the goal and the tool requires transformation with an emphasize on institutions such as meaning system. In addition, critical realism is also effective in completing the prescriptive part of the later approaches of science, technology, and innovation policy-making (such as innovation system), which are often conceptual and descriptive frameworks.
Conclusion: Critical realism approach, at the same time, can help both the "explanatory" and the "prescriptive" aspects of the innovation system. The latter is more important because, according to some theorists of innovation system, this framework has serious gaps in this regard.


Albert, H. (1969). Traktat über kritische Vernunft (2nd edition). Tubingen: Mohr.
Alvani, M. & Hashemian, M.H. (2008). Policy formation in postmodernism.Methodology of social sciences and humanities journal, 14 (56), 99-122. (in Persian)
Anderson, P. (1999). Perspective: Complexity theory and organization science. Organization science, 10(3), 216-232.
Atkinson, C. & Lucas, R. (2013). Policy and Gender in Adult Social Care Work. Public Administration, 91(1), 159-173.
Bahari, M. (2011). Critical realism and futures studies: the influence of Roy Bhaskar on Sohail Inayatullah (M.S. dissertation). Tehran: Sharif University of technology. (in Persian)  
Baumgartner, F. R., & Jones, B. D. (2002). Positive and negative feedback in politics. In F. R. Baumgartner and B. D. Jones (eds), Policy dynamics(pp. 3-28). Chicago: University of Chicago press.
Baumgartner, F.R., & Jones, B.D. (1993). Agendas and Instability in American Politics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Bell, W. (2013). Foundations of future studies: human science for a new era (Vol. 1) (M. Taqavi & M. Mohaghegh Trans.). New Brunswick: Transaction publishers (original work published 2003). (in Persian)
Bell, W., & Olick, J. K. (1989). An Epistemology for the Futures Field: Problems and Possibilities of Prediction. Futures, 21(2), 115-135.
Benton, T., & Craib, I. (2011). Philosophy of social science: The philosophical foundations of social thought (2 nd edition). New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
Bhaskar, R. & Lawson, T. (2013). Introduction: Basic texts and developments in M. Archer, R. Bhaskar, A. Collier, T. Lawson & A. Norrie (2013).Critical realism: Essential readings (pp.3-15). London: Routledge.
Bhaskar, R. (1975). A Realist Theory of Science. London: Routledge.
Bhaskar, R. (1979). The possibility of naturalism, a philosophical critique of the contemporary human science (3rd edition). London: Routledge.
Bhaskar, R. (1983). Dialectical Materialism and Human Emancipation. London: New Left Books.
Bhaskar, R. (1986). Scientific Realism and Human Emancipation. London: Verso.
Blaikie, N. (2012). Approaches to Social Enquiry (H.R. Hasani, M.T. Iman & M. Majedi Trans.). Malden: polity press (original work published 2007). (in Persian)  
Burrell, G. & Morgan, G. (2007). Sociological Paradigms and Organisational Analysis (M.T. Norouzi Trans.). Elements of the sociology of corporate life (original work published 1979). (in Persian)  
Calidoni-Lundberg, F. (2006). Evaluation: definitions, methods and models–An ITPS framework. Ostersund: Swedish Institute for Growth Policy Studies.
Collier, A. (1994). Critical Realism: An Introduction to Roy Bhaskar's Philosophy. London: Verso.
Crabbé A. & Leroy, P. (2008). The Handbook of Environmental Policy Evaluation, Sterling: Earthscan.
Crotty, M. (1998). The Foundations of Social Research: Meaning and Perspective in the Research Process. London: Sage Publications.
Danaeefard, H. (2008). The paradigms in the science of organization and management: a comparative approach to ontology, epistemology and methodology. Journal of business strategies, 5 (26), 89-104. (in Persian)
Danaeefard, H. (2016). The methodology of implication-research studies in human and social sciences: foundations, definitions, importance, approaches and the stages of implementation. Journal of Methodology of Social Sciences and Humanities (MSSH), 22(86), 39-71. (in Persian)
Danaeefard, H., Zolfagharzade, M.M., Taqavi, M., Mohammadi, M., Mohammadi, P. (2018). The study of critical realism’s implications in agenda setting of science, technology and innovation policy making; the case study of horizon 2020 and the european bioeconomy in 2030.  Journal of Methodology of Social Sciences and Humanities (MSSH), 24(95), 21-50. (in Persian)
Danermark, B., EkstrÖm, M., Jakobsen, L. & Karlsson, J. CH. (2002). Explaining Society; Critical Realism in Social Sciences. London: Routledge.
DeLeon, P. (1999). The Missing Link Revisited: Contemporary Implementation Research. Policy Studies Review, 16, 311–339.
Denzin, N. K. & Lincoln, Y. S. (Ed.) (2005). Handbook of qualitative research. London: Sage Publication.
Dixon, J. & Dogan, R. (2005). The Contending Perspectives on Public Management: A Philosophical Investigation, International Public Management Journal, 8(1), 1–22.
Durkheim, É. (1953). Sociology and Philosophy. London: Cohen & West.
Easton, G. (2010). Critical realism in case study research. Industrial marketing management, 39(1), 118-128.
Edquist, C. (2005). Systems of Innovation: Technologies, Institutions and organizations. In J. Fagerberg, D. C. Mowery & R. R. Nelson (Eds). The Oxford Handbook of Innovation (pp. 181-208). New York: Oxford University Press.
EU (European union) (2011). Evaluation-general issues. Available from: http://www.
Frowe, I. (2001). Language and educational research. Journal of Philosophy and Education, 35(2), 175-186.
Ghaeeni, A. & Hosseinzadeh, A. (2012). The Trio Paradigms of Positivism, Interpretativism and Hermeneutics in Management and Organizational Studies. Strategy for Culture, 5(19), 103-138. (in Persian)
Ghazinoory, S. & Ghazinoory, S. (2012). Science, technology and innovation policy making; an introduction. Tehran: Tarbiat Modares University press. (in Persian)
Giddens, A. (1984). The constitution of society: Outline of the theory of structuration. Cambridge: polity press.
Harré, R. (1970). The Principles of Scientific Thinking. London: McMillian.
Higgs, J. (2001). Charting Standpoints in Qualitative Research. In H. Byrne-Armstrong, J. Higgs & D. Horsefall (eds), Critical Moments in Qualitative Research (pp. 44-67). Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.
Hjern, B., & Hull, C. (1982). Implementation Research as Empirical Constitutionalism. European journal of political research, 10(2), 105-115.
Jann, W. & Wegrich, K. (2007). Theories of the Policy Cycle. In F. Fischer, G. J. Miller & Sidney, M.S. (Eds.). (2007). Handbook of public policy analysis: theory, politics, and methods (pp. 43-62). Ohio: CRC Press.
JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) (2011). Issues in Ex-ante and Ex-post Evaluation. Available from: _grant/guides/pdf/guideline03-02.pdf.
Johnson, P., & Duberley, J. (2013). Understanding management research: An introduction to epistemology (H. Danaeefard & H. Kazemi Trans.). London: Sage Publications (original work published 2000). (in Persian)
Kiel, L. D., & Elliott, E. W. (1996). Chaos theory in the social sciences: Foundations and applications. Michigan: university of Michigan Press.
Knowles, J. (2007). Natural Resource Management and Livelihoods Programme, Cambodia (2006 – 2010): Draft Strategy for Monitoring and Evaluation. Phnom Penh, Royal Danish Embassy (Cambodia).
Kuhn, T. S. (1960). The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Kusek J. Z. & Rist R. C. (2004). "Ten Steps to a Results-Based Monitoring and Evaluation System". Washington, DC: The World Bank.
Leca, B., & Naccache, P. (2006). A critical realist approach to institutional entrepreneurship. Organization, 13(5), 627-651.
Lincoln, Y.S. & Guba, E.G. (1985). Naturalistic Inquiry. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications Inc.
Martin, B.R. (2013). The Evolution of science policy and innovation studies (F. Nik-siar Trans.). Research Policy, 14(7), 1219-1239 (original work published 2012). (in Persian)
Masterman, M. (1970). The Nature of Paradigm. In I. Lakatos, & A. Musgrave (Ed.), Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge (vol.4, pp. 59-89). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
MFAF (2007). Evaluation Guidelines, between past and future. Helsinki: Ministry for foreign affairs of Finland.
Mingers, J., Mutch, A., & Willcocks, L. (2013). Critical realism in information systems research. MIS Quarterly, 37(3), 795-802.
Mohammadpur, A. (2010). Method in method; about knowledge bulding in humanities. Tehran: Sociologists Publications. (in Persian)
Morgan, D. L. (2007). Paradigms Lost and Pragmatism Regained: Methodological Implications of Combining Qualitative and Quantitative Methods. Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 1(1), 48-76.
Morgan, G. (2006). Images of organization. Thousand oaks, London: SAGE Publications.
Neuman, W. L. (1994). Social Research Methods: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Neuman, W. L. (2006). Social research methods: Qualitative and quantitative approaches (Sixth edition). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
OECD (2002). Glossary of key terms in evaluation and results based management, Paris: OECD/DAC (development assistance Committee).
OECD (2006). DAC evaluation quality standards. Paris: OECD/DAC (assistant Committee development).
Outhwaite, W. (1987). New philosophies of social science: Realism, hermeneutics, and critical theory. London: McMillan.
Patomäki, H. (2006). Realist ontology for futures studies. Journal of Critical Realism, 5(1), 1-31.
Ritzer, G. (2001). Explorations in Social Theory, From Meta-theorizing to Rationalization. London: SAGE Publications.
Sabatier P.A. & Weibele, C.M. (2014).  The advocacy coalition framework. In P.A. Sabatier (2014), Theories of the policy process (2nd edition, pp. 351-406) (H. Danaeefard, Trans.). Westview Press (Original work published 2007). (in Persian)  
Sabatier P.A. (2014). The need for better theories. In P.A. Sabatier (2014),Theories of the policy process (2nd edition, pp. 17-44) (H. Danaeefard, Trans.). Westview Press (Original work published 2007). (in Persian)  
Sabatier P.A. (2014). Theories of the policy process (2nd edition) (H. Danaeefard, Trans.). Westview Press. (Original work published 2007). (in Persian)  
Sabatier, P.A. & Jenkins-Smith, H. C. (1999). The Advocacy Coalition Framework: An Assessment. In Paul A. Sabatier, Theories of the Policy Process (pp. 117–166). Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
Sayer, A. (2000). Realism and social science. London: Sage publication ltd.
Sayer, A. (2014). Methods in social science (E. Afrouh Trans.). HarperCollins Academic (original work published 1992). (in Persian)
Schneider, M., & Somers, M. (2006). Organizations as complex adaptive systems: Implications of complexity theory for leadership research. The Leadership Quarterly, 17(4), 351-365.
Shafritz, J.M. & Borick, C.P. (2011). Introducing public policy (H. Malek-Mohammadi Trans.). London: Longman Publishing Group (original work published 2008). (in Persian)   
Shojaei, M.H., Fatehrad, M. & Tabatabaeian, S.H. (2014). A Plan for Evaluating Science, Technology and Innovation Policies. Rahyaft, 57, 1-14. (in Persian)  
Smith, K.T., Larimer, C.W. (2013). The public policy theory primer (H. Danaeefard, Trans.). New York: Routledge. (Original work published 2010). (in Persian)  
Smits, R., Kuhlmann, S. & Teuball, M. (2014). A System-Evolutionary Approach for Innovation Policy. In R. Smits, S. Kuhlmann & P. Shapira (eds.) (2014), The theory and practice of innovation policy; an introduction research handbook (pp. 581-622) (S. Ghazinoory & M. Azadeganmehr Trans.). Edward Elgar Pub (original work published 2010). (in Persian)  
Stockdale, M. S., & Crosby, F. J. (2004). The psychology and management of workplace diversity. Blackwell Publishing.
Tapio, P. & Hietanen, O. (2002). Epistemology and public policy: using a new typology to analyze the paradigm shift in Finnish transport futures studies. Futures, 34, 597–620.
Tohidinasab, Z. & foroozandeh, M. (2013). Critical realism; Social ontology and possibility of experimental examination in social sciences. Qom: Boustaneketab. (in Persian)
True L., J., Jones, B.D. & Baumgartner, F.R. (2014).  Punctuated-equilibrium theory. In P.A. Sabatier (2014), Theories of the policy process (2ndedition, pp. 293-350) (H. Danaeefard, Trans.). Westview Press(Original work published 2007). (in Persian)  
True, J. L., Jones, B. D. & Baumgartner F. R. (1999). Punctuated-Equilibrium Theory: Explaining Stability and Change in American Policymaking. In Theories of Policy Process, ed. Paul A. Sabatier, 97–116. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
Tsoukas, H. & Chia, R. C.H. (2015). Philosophy and organization theory (H. Danaeefard & H. Kazemi, Trans.). Bradford: Emerald Group Publishing. (Original work published 2011).
(in Persian)  
Tsoukas, H. & Knudsen, C. (Eds) (2003). The Oxford handbook of organization theory: Meta-theoretical Perspectives, New York: Oxford University Press.
Warwick, K. & Nolan, A. (2014). Evaluation of Industrial Policy: Methodological Issues and Policy Lessons, OECD Science, Technology and Industry Policy Papers, No. 16, OECD Publishing.
Whetsell, T. A., & Shields, P. M. (2015). The dynamics of positivism in the study of public administration: A brief intellectual history and reappraisal. Administration & Society, 47(4), 416-446.