Executive Summary Icon


Wiki source

It has been said that, by providing an easy digest of an often complex matter, an executive summary can lead policy makers and others to overlook important issues. Prof. Amanda Sinclair of the University of Melbourne has argued that this is often an active rather than a passive process. In one study, centred on globalization, she found that policy makers face "pressures to adopt a simple reading of complex issues" and "to depoliticise and universalize all sorts of differences". She claims that "all research was framed under pre-defined and generic headings, such as business case points. The partners' reports were supposed to look the same. The standardization of research occurred via vehicles such as executive summaries: “executives only read the summaries” we were told”. Similarly Colin Leys, writing in The Socialist Register, argues that executive summaries are used to present dumbed down arguments: "there is remarkably little adverse comment on the steep decline that has occurred since 1980 in the quality of government policy documents, whose level of argumentation and use of evidence is all too often inversely related to the quality of their presentation (in the style of corporate reports, complete with executive summaries and flashy graphics). "