John Young, ODI
How does research contribute to policy? Traditionally, the link between research findings and policy processes has been viewed as a linear process, whereby a set of research findings is shifted from the 'research sphere' over to the 'policy sphere', and then has some impact on policy-makers' decisions. This traditional view is now being replaced by a more dynamic and complex view that emphasises a two-way process between research and policy, shaped by multiple relations and reservoirs of knowledge.
Over the last 5 years ODI's Research and Policy in Development (RAPID) Programme has undertaken case study and action-research to develop a range of practical tools that to help researchers to:
- develop a better understanding of i) the policymaking process - what are the key influencing factors, and how do they relate to each other? ii) the nature of the evidence - is it credible, practical and operationally useful? and iii) all the other stakeholders involved in the policy area - who else can help to get the message across?
- develop a policy engagement strategy - identifying political supporters and opponents, keeping an eye out for, and being able to react to policy windows, ensuring the evidence is credible and practically useful, and building coalitions with like-minded groups.
- be more entrepreneurial - getting to know, and work with the policymakers, building long term programmes of credible research, communicating effectively, using participatory approaches, identifying key networkers and salesmen and using shadow networks.
This seminar, held at MoFA in Stockholm, Sweden in January 2007, was designed for researchers, consultants, the private sector, policy makers and development practitioners and focused on practical strategies for bridging research and policy, for all stakeholders. The seminar was followed by a smaller workshop for MoFA staff in the EGDI Secretariat, Department for Global Development, which focused on specific tools and approaches which can be used to improve ability to capitalize on commissioned research.