What constitutes globalised evidence? Cultural tensions and critical reflections of the evidence‐based movement in New Zealand

Sukriti Bhatnagar, Kane Meissel, Kelsey L. Deane, Pat Bullen
Published Online:
19 Feb 2019

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The evidence‐based movement (EBM) is grounded in a well‐intentioned desire to ensure resources are invested in high quality initiatives that generate the intended impact. Nevertheless, recent critiques contest the appropriateness of translating an approach rooted in a medical model to socially complex initiatives. Globalised notions of evidence can also be damaging for programs operating in small, culturally diverse countries with limited resources. Given these polemic views, our aim was to examine local perceptions of the EBM in New Zealand, a small, vibrant, bicultural society with a mix of homegrown and imported programs. Using a snowball sampling approach, 79 professionals working in the education and social sectors completed an anonymous online survey that contained a series of closed and open‐ended questions. The results show that although participants positively endorsed a variety of quality evidence markers, traditionally positivist methodological leanings received lower and more varied endorsements compared to more inclusive and pluralistic approaches. Many also expressed concern that the EBM emphasises a narrow and colonised view of evidence that does not align with Māori and Pacific worldviews, and undermines innovation. We discuss the implications as an avenue for advancing intervention and social programming research in an increasingly multicultural and globalised world.

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