Rethinking the relationship between technical and local knowledge: Toward a multi-type approach

Maya Negev, Naama Teschner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the field of policy-making, technical knowledge is generally regarded as objective, true, and sufficient. It is typically positioned in contrast to local knowledge, which is considered subjective and irrelevant to policy-making. This paper follows a growing scholarly trend of re-examining the relationship between technical and local knowledge, in order to show that technical knowledge may be disputable, uncertain, and based on problematic presuppositions, while local knowledge often employs objective and systematic methods. The dichotomy between local and technical knowledge is thereby questioned, with the proposal that there exist multiple types of knowledge that are of relevance to policy-making. In addition, the paper shows that the boundary between individuals who hold different types of knowledge is blurry, and that, in fact, policy-making stakeholders simultaneously employ several types of knowledge. The empirical data for this study comes from a stakeholder participation process in Health Impact Assessment, which focused on land uses in the vicinity of a national hazardous industry and waste site.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-59
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
StatePublished - Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the editors of this special edition, Karen Buchanan, Yola Georgiadou, Esther Turnhout, and especially Anna Wasselink, for their helpful and interesting comments, which helped improve this paper. We also thank two anonymous reviewers for their important suggestions. The first author thanks Prof. Nadav Davidovitch and the Center for Health Policy Research in the Negev at Ben Gurion University for supervision and partnership in conducting this HIA. This research was conducted as part of a doctoral fellowship of the first author, funded by the Environment and Health Fund, Israel , for which she is extremely grateful. Most importantly, our gratitude goes to the stakeholders who took part in the HIA, and agreed to be interviewed for the purpose of this research.


  • Health
  • Interpretive policy analysis
  • Knowledge
  • Policy-making
  • Stakeholder participation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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