Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Global Governance and Human Security

First Advisor

Maria H. Ivanova

Second Advisor

J. Samuel Barkin

Third Advisor

Adugna Lemi


The mechanics of interaction between science and policy in the context of complex policy spaces has remained a subject of scholarly debate. Recent focus is shifting towards promoting science-policy interfaces as spaces for integration of science into decision making. However, the question of what these spaces are and how they function remains a puzzle. While existing literature agrees on the apparent disruption of communication between knowledge generation and policy; or offers suggestions on factors that facilitate or inhibit communication, it often fails to present a comprehensive understanding on the mechanisms of actual interchange. Besides, research tends to sideline considerations of complexity disregarding the dynamism of social processes and the intricate relationships among interests, value systems, narratives and power plays influencing policy outcomes. This research analyses how various actors with specific self-interests and positions interact across a range of national policy spaces in the backdrop of conflicting/ reinforcing narratives, structures, and agency characterizing the spaces.

Using an “emergent policy environment” framework which is characterized by analytical categories comprising discourses, structures, and agency, the first paper analyzes how the 2011 Climate Resilient Green Economy Strategy came to be, in a policy context characterized by competing narratives, mandate [re]arrangements, and power inter-plays. Through evidence generated by administering a series of open-ended questions, the paper challenges the linear thinking that assumes policies as inevitable products. It establishes that the national climate policy process is complex, entailing interactions among and between national and supranational actors espousing varied, if not polarized, interests and values. These intricacies and nuanced details determine which narrative gains expression in the national climate policy. The second paper uses a set of structured interviews, Focus Group Discussions, and document analysis to examine the Ethiopian Rural Economic Development and Food Security (REDFS) as a science-policy space. It analyzed how the REDFS performs its function of aligning donor-government interaction across the pastoralist livelihood systems. I explored how actors represent themselves (agency) and use opportunities to represent their individual and collective interests in policy outcomes under the collective mandates conferred to them by political structures - in this case, the REDFS. Taking the 2017 Prosopis Management Strategy as one policy outcome, the paper concludes that networked actor interests employed specific narratives and directed resources to influence policy directions to drive policies in their favor. The third paper draws on information generated from a series of interviews and author’s own observation to understand how a national multi-stakeholder process resulted in a high-consensus political document known as Ethiopia’s 2040 Scenarios. Overall, the dissertation research is built upon a combination of qualitative methods including author’s own lived experience to provide empirical evidence on what the social process of policy making looks like in the context of Ethiopia’s policy spaces. It concludes that collaborative knowledge production for policy is possible through carefully facilitated interactive processes, managed through a “safe space” platform, and enabled by creating and nurturing trust all-along the policy development journey.

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