Search the site by keyword

How inquiries support change

A family walking down on a New Zealand beach Impact Assessment Report cover

New Zealand Productivity Commission

Date published

23 February 2024

Productivity, and improving productivity, is a key concern for governments seeking to maximise their nations’ outcomes and the wellbeing of their populations. 

In recognition of this, the Productivity Commission | Te Kōmihana Hua o Aotearoa (the Commission) was established as a Crown entity and began operating in 2011. Its principal purpose was to provide advice to the government on improving productivity. Over our time in operation, we completed 18 inquiries into topics selected by ministers.

This report examines the value delivered by inquiries and sets out some key lessons that may be of value for other organisations conducting similar work in the future.

Recognising that the full impact of inquiries cannot be seen in their immediate aftermath, this review has taken a more in-depth look at the long-term outcomes of the work. This involved using new measures, complementing data and information we have already collected, and carrying out interviews with external stakeholders who could comment on the longer-term impact of four case study inquiries. 

Key findings

  • The Commission’s inquiries were successful in engaging people in the inquiry topic.
  • Research and analysis by the Commission was high quality and trusted.
  • Final inquiry reports were key to impact.

Overall, all the inquiries we reviewed received a largely positive response from the government of the day.

Governments agreed with most of our recommendations.

Our inquiry reports were used to support a particular direction of change, generate debate and discussion, and they were used as evidence in support of submissions. Inquiry reports also clearly have a long shelf life and continue to be used as an important reference document many years after being released.

The feedback from this report, as well as our experience, is that inquiries play an important role in the public policy system.

There are opportunities to learn from this experience to support the government’s future efforts. This could involve consideration of: 

  • how a government builds the work involved in, and the outcomes of, inquiries into its ongoing work programme
  • how to monitor and understand the impact of inquiries when they are complete
  • the ongoing role and relevance of subject-matter expertise and experience in a topic to support work over time. 


Filter publications by topic.

Load more publications