The success of an impact assessment (IA) can mean both instrumental success of applying IA results directly in decision-making, and conceptual success linked to learning about policy problems more generally. Both instrumental and conceptual success can be claimed to be reliant on the knowledge exchange context of the IA, shaped by factors such as the complexity of the policy problem, type of policy area, organisational norms, actor constellations and continuance and openness of information sharing. Even though such context factors may be pre-set, they are nevertheless contested and reformulated during each IA process. This paper ties together lessons from six different IA processes that were performed between 2011 and 2013. The cases include agricultural policy at the EU and regional level in Greece, national-level climate change and energy policy in Finland and Estonia, resource efficiency policy at the German national level, and sustainable land use policy in Inner Mongolia, China. The paper introduces and applies a typology of knowledge brokerage context factors. The paper asks how knowledge brokerage is shaped by different contexts and what determines the consequent application (or non-application) of IA tools and the use of IA results. The paper concludes by highlighting the significance of identification and acknowledgement of different knowledge exchange contexts in IA.