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Research Communication and Policy Process


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GDNet-AERC Policy Brief Training Workshop …

GDNet-AERC Policy Brief Training Workshop
June 6-8, 2014
Accra, Ghana

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  • By the end of this workshop…

    Policy champions for own research
    Write effective policy briefs
    BUT also understand the role of your policy brief and how it fits into the bigger picture in terms of getting research into policy and practice.

  • The way we think about how research influences policy is not always logical… policy change happens because of a series of intertwined steps that support one another… It’s not magic!
  • We often use the terms research dissemination and research communication interchangeably… can anyone tell me the difference?

    We want you to go beyond this and to think about how you can create demand for your research and an enabling environment by mobilizing intermediaries or knowledge brokers around your work…
  • It’s important to draw out the distinction within these definitions between supply and demand. In a perfect world you will focus on both the supply and demand side….
  • - Build capacity and understanding
    Take advantage of trends and powerful narratives within society
    Work with policy actors to set the agenda

  • This all sounds relatively straight forward, but of course we live in a complex world and the likelihood of your research influencing policy is unlikely to be just down to the quality of your work, or how well you communicate or mobilize others.

    It’s important to try and understand this complexity. A recent book entitled Knowledge Policy and Power in International Development sets out 4 key areas that will help you navigate complexity in the research to policy process….
  • We often use this slide to show the potential complexity within the policy process – unless you understand these processes or have contacts in key places these processes can seem very daunting.

    Speak to people within positions of power in the sector you hope to influence and try to find out how decisions are made in your context.

    Out of interest, how many of you think you have good relationships with policy actors?

  • Another thing to consider is the type of policy change you are hoping to bring about. It’s important to set yourself clear objectives and be aware that policy change is defined in different ways.

    Can anyone have a go at explaining what each of these refers to?

    Discursive changes: These refer to changes in the labels or narratives of policy actors. They reflect a new or improved understanding of a subject -- even if it does not imply an effective change of policy or practice.
    Procedural changes: These refer to changes in the way certain processes are undertaken. For example, the incorporation of consultations to otherwise closed processes, or small changes in the way that national policies are implemented in the field.
    Content changes: These refer to changes in the content of policies including strategy papers, legislation and budgets. These are formal changes in the policy framework. 

    Attitudinal changes: These refer to changes in the way policy actors think about a given issue. This might be an important change to target in the event that key stakeholders have high influence but lack interest in a policy area or are not necessarily aligned with the policy objectives of the programme.
    Behavioural changes: These refer to more durable changes in the way that policy actors behave (act or relate to others) as a consequence of formal and informal changes in discourse, process and content.

  • There ARE steps you can take to improve the likelihood of your research been used…
  • Transcript

    • 1. Research communication and the policy environment Andrew Clappison
    • 2. Why is research communication important?
    • 3. Research communication explained
    • 4. Managing the enabling environment: Knowledge, policy and power 1. Systematic mapping of the political context is necessary to improve the success of knowledge-policy interactions. 2. Understanding the role and behaviour of actors is important (i.e. interplay of actor interests, values and credibility and the power relations that underpin these.) 3. Research needs to be complemented by other forms of knowledge, based on local conditions and practical experience. 4. ‘Knowledge intermediary’s’ needs to think through a range of possible approaches to ensure their role is effective (i.e. theory of action) *Knowledge Policy and Power in International Development by Harry Jones, Nicola Jones, Louise Shaxson and David Walker
    • 5. Monitoring and Evaluation Agenda Setting Decision Making Policy Implementation Policy Formulation Understanding policy processes... Civil Society Donors Cabinet Parliament Ministries Private Sector Thanks ODI for this slide
    • 6. HOW TO NEGOTIATE COMPLEXITY What researchers need to know What researchers need to do How to do it POLITICAL CONTEXT EVIDENCE/KNOWLEDGE LINKS (POLICY ACTORS & INTERMEDIARIES) • Who are the policymakers? • Is there demand for ideas? • What is the policy process? • What is the current theory? • What are the narratives? • How divergent is it? • Who are the stakeholders? • What networks exist? • Who are the connectors, mavens and salesmen? • Get to know the policymakers. • Identify friends and foes. • Prepare for policy opportunities. • Build linkages to negotiate complex systems (see below) • Work with decision-makers to build interest and demand • Strategic opportunism – be prepared for opportunities • Establish credibility • Provide practical solutions • Establish legitimacy. • Present clear options • Build on familiar narratives & existing knowledge. • Build a reputation • Action-research • Pilot projects to generate legitimacy • Good communication • Get to know the key actors • Work through existing networks. • Build coalitions. • Build new policy networks. • Build partnerships. • Identify key networkers, mavens and salesmen. • Use informal contacts