On Scientific Expertise in Chronic Crises

Scientific expertise plays a central role in the Corona crisis. However, their organization and political function have not yet been systematically studied. In this project, empirical research is used to identify the challenges that arise for institutional policy advice in protracted crises. The basis for this is an international comparison (Austria, Germany, Great Britain).

Especially in national and global crises elicited by novel risks, scientific expertise is the most important resource for political decision-making. The Corona pandemic has once again made this clear. It therefore raises the question of what requirements scientific policy advice must meet in order to be able to serve as an effective information and legitimation resource for government and administration in such crises; in view of notorious uncertainty in crisis situations, much depends on the public’s trust in experts.

The (hitherto unexplored) basic question of whether the Austrian policy advisory model meets the requirements of global crises motivates the planned project. The project examines how Corona-specific expertise is organised, produced and used politically in Austria. In a second step, the Austrian way of providing policy advice will be compared with relevant experiences in other European countries (Germany, UK). Therefore, from a political-practical point of view, it becomes clear what challenges chronic crises (like the nuclear dispute in the past or the climate crisis today) pose for institutional policy advice – and what need for reform this special situation may formulate for current practice.

By systematically and internationally comparing the organisation, negotiation and political function of Corona-specific advisory bodies, the project thus contributes to revealing the benefits and shortcomings of the Austrian model. It thus provides an important prerequisite for consolidating the knowledge base of decision-makers. In other words, the project contributes to ensure epistemic certainty in global crises.


10/2021 - 03/2023

Project team