New research shows benchmarking is bad science
New research published in the European Journal of International Relations – one of the leading journals in the field of political science and international relations – by researchers from the Global Benchmarking Project within the Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation (CSGR) has highlighted the problems of ‘bad science’ that are inherent in prominent country ratings and rankings produced by international organisations such as the World Bank and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Benchmarks now pervade many aspects of everyday life in a growing number of countries, including the UK, and risk distorting processes of performance assessment and the strategic priorities pursued by leaders and managers in sectors ranging from healthcare to aid spending to university teaching and research. The Global Benchmarking Project has catalogued 275 instances of global benchmarks that aim to comparatively assess national performance in world politics, which risk distorting policymaking and political priorities at the global level and how national governments set official objectives and evaluate progress relative to their peers.
In this new article, written by André Broome, Alexandra Homolar, and Matthias Kranke, the authors demonstrate how global benchmarking by international organisations is a significant source of indirect power in world politics, and argue that the use of benchmarking to alter how political actors understand best practices, advocate policy changes, and attribute political responsibility constitutes ‘bad science’, which nonetheless enjoys a significant degree of legitimacy as a result of these organisations’ expert status.
An OnlineFirst version of the article is available to download on an open access basis:
André Broome, Alexandra Homolar, and Matthias Kranke. Bad Science: International Organizations and the Indirect Power of Global Benchmarking. Forthcoming in the European Journal of International Relations.