In Evidence Based Policy Making, pilot projects have been recognized as important tools to develop ‘evidence’ of policy innovations. This paper presents a theoretical and empirical study of three water management pilot projects in the Rhine basin to deepen understanding of how they can contri-bute to EBPM and which limitations and problems may arise when realizing EBPM. Three types of pilot projects have been identified: research, mana-gerial and political-entrepreneurial pilot projects. To different extent all types of pilot project have the following effects: biophysical- and actor-network system response, knowledge development and diffusion into wider public policy. The Beuningen pilot demonstrated that anticipated evidence can be sufficient to change policy or management due to its strong mana-gerial characteristics and that the lack of policy ambassadors limits its insti-tutionalization. The Basel case illustrated the importance of interpretation of evidences and the consequences of the use of evidence as alibi. The Alten-heim case demonstrated that top-down research pilot projects are easily in-stitutionalized but lack to take the step to dissemination. In order to contri-bute to the realization of EBPM, pilot projects might need to be designed as both a means to develop and to transfer evidence through experience.
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