Policy Experimentation

Policy Experimentation

POLICY EXPERIMENTATION Policy is a powerful way to bring about social change. Policy experimentation is a means of testing the effects of policy interventions in a real-world setting before a new policy is adopted. It is a low-risk means of facilitating institutional innovation, promoting the escalation of large-scale policy implementation only where smaller-scale implementation – through policy experimentation – convinces key stakeholders of the evidence-based benefits of the intervention. Scientific progress over the centuries has been driven by experimentation and policy development and implementation is no exception. Although the concepts are often considered similar, policy experimentation is quite different from policy innovation. The difference is all about methodology.

Policy experimentation aims to measure the impact of new and innovative policy before its widespread implementation, using Randomized Controlled Trials (RCT) and other methods and approaches to determine the effects of a specific policy. Policy innovation is mainly about implementing new policy with a view to addressing known societal challenges yet with often no prior evidence of the effects of this policy. Whilst cognisant of the merits of policy innovation, we at PEEP believe that policy experimentation is a proven means of generating reliable data for policymakers, relying on evidence-based processes and enabling the right policy solutions to be delivered with a view to addressing future societal challenges.




Examples of Policy Experimentation

Youth Start Entrepreneurial Challenges

In the Youth Start policy experimentation project, PEEP worked directly with the Ministries of Education in Austria, Luxembourg, Portugal and Slovenia to develop an innovative and scalable entrepreneurship programme – Youth Start Entrepreneurial Challenges – and to assess its effectiveness with students in primary and secondary education. A Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) methodology was adopted using a quasi-experimental protocol to confirm positive progression, personal development and an increase in entrepreneurial competence among participating students.


Another example of policy experimentation is TeachUP, a project which developed a range of online courses for teachers (covering new areas of teacher competence) and using Randomised Controlled Trials to determine the impact of personalised support provision in increasing levels of teacher participation in online courses. Video Credits: European Schoolnet.


The Mentoring Technology-Enhanced Pedagogy (MENTEP) project was a cross-country policy experimentation initiative designed to test the impact of using a self-assessment tool on teachers’ digital pedagogical competency development.  MENTEP specifically developed the Technology Enhanced Teaching Self-Assessment Tool (TET-SAT) to encourage teachers to reflect on their own digital competences and on how they make use of digital technologies in their teaching. MENTEP provided a means of delivering feedback to policy makers relying on targeted surveys among different user and control groups. Video Credits: European Schoolnet.

Universal Basic Income Experiment

One of the most well-known recent policy experimentations is South Korea’s Universal Basic Income Experiment. This initiative was designed to reduce inequality and poverty whilst promoting economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic being initially trialled in a single province before considering wider rollout. Video Credits: Wall Street Journal.

RCTs: What Are They?

Randomized Controlled Trials, or RCTs, are a type of scientific experiment which aims to reduce bias when testing a new policy, method or treatment . RCTs are often considered the gold standard. in policy experimentation and impact evaluation. In this video, UNICEF introduces RCTs and explains how these can aid policy impact assessment. Video Credits: UNICEF Innocenti

See Also

Let’s experiment: Testing a new approach to innovation in the EU


The Wisdom of Crowds in Equity Crowdfunding: A Randomized Field Experiment