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Legilative and institutional trajectories for interfacing the research policy-practice nexus iii
 

Legilative and institutional trajectories for interfacing the research policy-practice nexus iii

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    Legilative and institutional trajectories for interfacing the research policy-practice nexus iii Legilative and institutional trajectories for interfacing the research policy-practice nexus iii Document Transcript

    • Legislative and Institutional Pathways interfacing the Research, Policy and Practice (RPP) Nexus BT Costantinos, PhD Professor of Public Policy, School of Graduate Studies, Department of Public Administration and Management, AAU costy@costantinos.net Strengthening Linkages betweenPolicy Research and Policymaking for African Development African Technology Studies Network (ATSN) Annual Conference & Workshop
    • Contents1. Introduction…12. Statement of the problem …23. Methodology and research questions…2 3.1. Methodology …2 3.2. Hypothesis …3 3.3. Research questions…3 3.4. Limitations and delimitations of the research Observations…34. Observations of the research…3 4.1. Agency for research, policy and practice nexus in Africa …3 4.2. Uncertainty and complexity in policy formulation and management …4 4.3. Ideological dimensions to the research, policy and practice in Africa …55. Discussion …6 5.1. Analytical perspectives of the research-policy-practice nexus…6 5.2. Particular representations and explicit general forms in the RPP nexus …8 5.3. Shift of analytical focus in the nexus…9 5.4. The proliferation of foreign aid interventions and Policy Transfers …106. Guiding rails and tools for the nexus …11 6.1. Research protocol for investigating the nexus…11 6.2. Civic participation …127. Emerging paradigms of RPP nexus …13 References…16Abbreviations and acronymsALF Africa Leadership Forum CSOs Civil Society OrganisationsDESA Dept. for Economic and Social Affairs GCA Global Coalition for AfricaIMF International Monetary Fund NGOs Non-Governmental OrganisationsOECD Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development RPP Research-Policy-Practice nexusUNDP United Nations Development Programme WTO World Trade OrganisationAbstract The theme of the research augurs on challenges and opportunities in interfacing pathways for trans-lating research evidence through policy to practice for sustainable African development. The key researchquestion augurs on what the research protocols and models of public management that can be deployedto reform the research, policy and practice interface? The finding of the research portend the underpinnings of ideology and agency for the research, policyand practice nexus in Africa, uncertainty and complexity in policy formulation and management. Analyti-cal challenges to the research-policy- practice nexus are generally are marked by a tendency to narrowthe nexus to the terms and categories of immediate, not very well considered, political and social action;inattention to problems of articulation or production of global systems and process within local politicsrather than simply as formal or abstract possibilities; a nearly exclusive concern in certain institutionalperspectives on the RPP nexus with generic attributes and characteristics of social, economic, cultural andpolitical organisations; ambiguity as to whether African civil society, academia and think tanks are agentsor objects of change; and the inadequate treatment of the role of policy transfers from the Bretton WoodInstitutions The discussion is focussed on the nexus’s particular representations or contents and explicit generalforms in the nexus, shift of analytical focus in the nexus, and the proliferation of aid and policy transfers.Policy pluralism is most likely to happen when initiatives emanate from society rather than the state orinternational actors. The study concluded that policy there is no single factor that influences implementa-tion and that there is no single theory that explains implementation challenges. The political context andintellectual environment with in which policy is formulated and implemented explains the success in in-terfacing RPP. The guiding rails and tools for the nexus are presented in the sections on the proposed re-search protocol for investigating the nexus and civic participation. Key words: Analytical challenges, research, policy and practice, rules, agency
    • 1. Introduction Africa has survived under an authoritarian tradition over the last century. The African state began to exercise ever-tighter control over its subjects; assuming leviathan proportions under colonialism and the totalitarian rule of military leaders. At no other time in history have states had such total control over their subjects. Peasants, urban dwellers were under the tight supervision of the state; neither labour, nor the youth, nor the press, in short no component of what is understood by civil society, was allowed even a whiff of autonomy. It was one big exercise in recasting society in the image of the political regime. In sum, these states brought authoritarianism to its highest pitch - in their militarism and pronounced ideological motivation. What is more, the lack of parliamentary mechanisms for participatory governance meant that poverty, insecurity, rule of might, and taking the law in to one’s hand were rampant and people had to find their own means of opposing prevailing corrupt and bankrupt forces, of- ten resulting in conflicts that claimed the lives of millions and destroyed economies. This ac- count of the abject living conditions, that the African people lived for so many years, sum- marises what Africans have grappled with for decades and manifests in their constant effort to distance themselves away from the remnant marks of the state. Understandably, governments have been undertaking large public sector reform pro- grammes since independence to improve the performance of the civil service institutions in terms of managing financial and human resource and identify and deliver service to the citi- zens, setting strategic priorities and monitor performance on policy and performance im- plementation and establishing ethics standards and systems that are necessary to insure state integrity. The intention to improve the effectiveness and efficacy of the change process must be coupled with its affordability and sustainability over time if the objective of chang- ing the existing operating system is to succeed. Hence, strategic plans have been formulated to determine public management’s desired future of state. It had also been exercised to the extent of improving the organisations performance and effectiveness. Yet, it had been revised vital to cascading the performance measurement system down to the employee level. The point, however, here is that the strategic plan is not an end and over all solution but a tool for transformation. Moreover, performance based management system had been developed and practiced in different statal and parastatal organisations for the very purpose of establishing strategic performance objectives, measuring performance and eventually drive performance improvement Besides, service delivery improvement had been exercised in many of the organisations that results in improving customer services by reduc- ing cycle time. It has been regarded as a stepping stone for helping organisations to improve service delivery system. Countless organisations have taken initiatives to undertaking process reengineering and registered significant changes in reducing cycle time, cutting operational cost, increasing customer satisfactions and becoming competent enough to the changing business environ- ment. Nevertheless, the strategic plans were found to be short of profound employee aware- ness and a lesser amount of managers’ involvement. The performance based measurement system faced inadequate training of employee to fully integrate with the system and process reengineering has failed to spot the core process and adapt to incremental improvement. The paper focuses on the analytical strength, weaknesses and opportunities of the change processes undertaken in major areas of the policy, research and practice nexus. It presents the statement of the problem, methodology used in the research, analytical limita- tion in the RPP nexus and observations and conclusion. In due course the goal of these change initiatives is directed to bring institutional transformation, responsive organisational structure, committed proactive leadership, and favourable participation by the public, clear legal mandate, efficient and effective utilisation of resource, capable of measuring results for interfacing research, policy and practice.
    • 2. Statement of the problem African states have historically proved to be the main channel for personal wealth accu- mulation and securing privileged position in society. As the result of the socialisation of the means of production, state power was appropriated to the political elite. As the winner takes all and the looser is consigned to the political and economic wilderness, all the brutality of bitter fights ensure in every competition. It is simply a zero-sum game where the loser has no refugee or alternative. Consequently, the bureaucracy will no doubt fight democrats ag- gressively in order to obtain its patron’s in positions of power by any means possible. Since public sector corruption and inefficiencies undermine political, economic, and social stabil- ity by undermining citizen’s faith in the democratic process, the legitimacy of the democratic process underway will depend in important ways on it being perceived as reasonably honest, predictable, transparent, and accountable in the execution of the states responsibility. In situations where public officials are seen to be using their positions to advance paro- chial interest and self-aggrandisement, a general loss of respect for authority and the law oc- curs and despondency in the general population develops. It is apparent that as the nation enters this new era of political pluralism, there is a need to overhaul the administrative ma- chinery and develop institutional alternatives to the hierarchical organisational structure. Nonetheless, the solutions, like the problems, can be seen in large part as elements, features and effects of political ideological leanings; taking shape and come into play as operation of a particular power doctrine. A major problem inherent in the system is the extreme weakness of the social move- ments and their failure to develop coherent strategies for promoting broad based and well organised citizenry. Some of the salient features that underlie the socio-economic and class formation of our society make it difficult to preserve and consolidate democracy. The lack of self organised civil associations, whose functions are to preserve basic rights of its constitu- ents and the society at large, educate the citizens and advocate popular claims, build a con- sensus and promote political and moral ethical values and disseminate them among the populace, it has become difficult to nurture a sense of civil society. The reality is that the state has historically been too powerful and too controlling in the face of an embryonic and weak civil society. Whatever the technical construction chosen to express system integrity, the sustainability of an honest and transparent governance system will depend on the under- standing of social groups and institutions of the rights and obligations of citizenship. Until recently, Africa has very little, if any, experience in open democratic discourse, are unfamiliar with the critical values, and practices that anchor policy discourse culture and tradition. Hence, in defining the problems of corruption and proposing solutions for them, i.e. in setting goals and tasks for attempting to solve the problems, states have done so largely within this particular tradition of political thought. Where the leadership has not suf- ficiently assimilated the value system of the rule of law, checks and balances or power shar- ing, the tendency to be corrupt and abuse human rights, is rife. Major obstacles to consoli- date a system that can advance public policy management are almost insurmountable.3. Methodology and research questions 3.1. Methodology In the following is outlined the kind and types of information gathered, data collec- tion techniques used and the analysis system that utilised to organise, interpret and pre- sent findings. The qualitative and quantitative methodology employed by the researcher sought to meet two criteria: the requirement that the research should provide an inde- pendent assessment of public management trajectories and the need for a degree of ‘ac- companiment’ of stakeholders to support and critique ongoing efforts to improve exist- ing arrangements and to design improved innovations and models in public manage- ment. In addition to the primary data, secondary data were collected from different or- ganisations. These data mainly came from existing records of government bureaux and other organisations associated with them. All relevant documents including plans, strat- egy papers, evaluations, thematic reviews, monitoring reports, relevant to the public Page 2 | Legislative and institutional trajectories for the RPP nexus: BTC 2011
    • management including examination of all project and relevant documentation includ- ing: project documents, and proposals for extension, financial, implementation, and an- nual reports, research reports; reports from feedback seminars; agreements between project donors and government, mandate, policy, and strategy documentation etc were studied to understand the context, formulate the research and guide the analysis. Interviews were held with knowledgeable personalities from various walks of life. Interviews with project stakeholders including government agencies, staff and consult- ants; project donor staff and CSOs and donors involved in aid-related issues. Lengthy and detailed discussions were held as to their conceptualisation of the process objec- tives, activities, effects, impacts and underlying assumptions of the process. A series of interview instruments that reflect the range of issues and questions contained in the as- signment were developed and administered. Questions were designed to collect a wide range of factual and attitudinal data on public management that were administered on issues related to research objectives and in addition to these factual questions, the sur- vey will consist of certain attitudinal questions, which will probe stakeholder perception of problems and needs and how aid relates and affects these needs and problems. The information collected through review of documents, personal interviews and group’s discussions was analysed within the framework of the study objectives. Data col- lected through structured questionnaires was edited, coded, and analysed. Data ob- tained from official records was analysed using content analysis techniques. 3.2. Hypothesis: Policy formulation pluralism and practice is most likely to happen when initiatives emanate from society rather than the state or international actors, where political interests in society are formally organised if they are to push through policy implementation. The effectiveness of organisations at promoting policy pluralism de- pends on their autonomy, capacity, complexity, and coherence. 3.3. Research questions • What are the analytical limitations to the research-policy-practice interface? • What research protocols can be deployed to synergise the interface? • What public management models can be proposed to advance the interface? 3.4. Limitations and delimitations of the research: the research is limited to public man- agement trajectories that have been implemented in Egypt, Nigeria, Ethiopia and South Africa as they represent significant populace in the African continent. The analyses hence focus on few of the new public administration and management principles im- plemented in the continent.4. Observations 4.1. Agency for research, policy and practice nexus in Africa: Participants in and around the RPP nexus generally constitute a network or inter- section of institutions and groups which may include the following: indigenous govern- ments that preside over formal policy-practice nexus processes, political organisations not affiliated with ruling coalitions, opposition groups and intellectual that operate out- side official government channels and struggle for a share of power or influence; in some cases, a free, though constitutionally and legally not very well protected, press; lo- cal non-state entities involved in promoting policy-practice nexus at the grassroots which collectively exert far-reaching external influence over political reform . Generally, the larger the number and degree of diversity of participants actively in- volved, the greater the variation. The more uncertain and complex forms of agency and activity possible and the more open and free the RPP process is, it likely to be in its for- mal as well as informal aspects. Admittedly, the interesting actors typically have their own primary functions quite apart from their role in promoting RPP nexus. Every one of the players is geared toward specific interests, concerns and activities beyond or outside the ends of policy reform. Even if they are expressly committed to promoting reform, it is always possible for participants to lose themselves in the specifics and forget the Page 3 | Legislative and institutional trajectories for the RPP nexus: BTC 2011
    • process as a whole. Yet a particular actor in pursuit of a limited objective within the network, as a condition of maintaining coherence and effectiveness and enlisting co- operation from other participants, will have to modulate its agency and intentions. This has to come in such a way that their complex, differential play in alternative in- stitutional practices and in varying forms and contexts of activity is possible. Each actor must formulate its own project in a spiral form that to some degree allows the project to escalate or to open into other objectives and activities within the reform network. To re- state the basic point, the extent and nature of openness of policy-practice nexus are conditioned by the breadth of the range of available participants and the degree of un- certainty and complexity that characterised their agency and functional relations. There are, however, countervailing currents and pressures within the intersection of participating organisations and groups which tend to work against or limit the policy- practice nexus process openness. These forces of process closure manifest themselves in the structure of the network of participants and in participants activities. The forces may or may not be transparent to the consciousness of the actors that channel them. At the structural level, a certain hierarchy of agency and activity is evident within the net- work of policy-practice nexus participants, such that some actors assume primary posi- tion relative to others that are by comparison limited players. For example, indigenous governments are more commandingly and directly involved in running policy-practice nexus than local non-governmental organisations. Certain international agencies, nota- bly the World Bank and the IMF, range their activities and influence across the network extensively while others are localised. This hierarchy of agency effectively places some participants in the reform network in positions of subordination. It also places limits on the range of agents and forms of political practice, which can be networked through domestic and international support. Thus, although their legally recognised existence and growth are crucial for policy- practice nexus and good governance, opposition parties and groups tend to be neglected or marginalised. Often, they are forced into the background (or underground) of the formal policy-practice nexus process, or into partial or total exclusion. African nations, on the other hand, while they have to reckon with external aid conditionalities, are often supported into becoming the source of global laws and policies. It is also ironic that it is on this basis that the agency and activities of alternative or opposition groups are regu- lated in determining the rules of the game on the RPP nexus allowed or disallowed. In some cases, this leads to narrowness within the structure of global and local regimens and organisations whereby nexus creates participants and participants conceive the processes in self-enclosed, formalistic, reciprocally constrictive articulation. In short, the uncertain and, potentially at least, open political, institutional and in- tellectual environment in which the nexus will have to be made is generally counter- balanced by a significant degree of stratification of organised actors and by relatively settled relations of power and authority into which the actors enter.4.2. Uncertainty and complexity in policy formulation and management: Structural constraints on possibilities of policy-practice nexus are reinforced by spe- cific, more or less conscious, uncertainty and complexity reducing activities of key par- ticipants, particularly the governments and foreign backers. As an interval between one regime or system of rule add another during which competing actors claim and contest over state power, policy-practice nexus may be characterised by rules and forms of po- litical engagement that are in constant flux and may lead to any number of unpredict- able alternative outcomes. At the same times, however, the interval is marked by aspir- ing or incumbent governments that seek to quickly get their hands on the flux of policy- practice nexus events and circumstances, often succeeding in immediately securing themselves in and projecting power. There is a strong political incentive for emergent regimes, connected to real or imag- ined threats of violent opposition to policy-practice nexus, to engage in activities which Page 4 | Legislative and institutional trajectories for the RPP nexus: BTC 2011
    • short-cut or pre-empt the development of an open and level playing field for policy- practice nexus as witnessed by the WTO rules. These activities include the reduction of an entire environment of policy change to a specific programme of policy, with all the pre-emptions, displacements and substitutions of political agency and activity which implies process closure.4.3. Ideological dimensions to the research, policy and practice in Africa? Beyond the sphere of agency, possibilities and problems of policy-practice nexus openness can be grasped in terms of the related domain of ideology. Ideological ele- ments and constructs might be seen as the very constitutive structure of process open- ness and closure. Policy-practice nexus will commonly be characterised by a number of distinctive and shared additional elements, including concepts and rules of government, national and cultural values, traditions of political discourse and arguments, and modes of representation of specific interests, needs and issues. These elements, or complexes of elements, will tend to assume varying forms and to enter into shifting relations of competition, co-operation and hegemony during political reform. Generally, the broader the ranges of ideological elements at play in a policy-practice nexus to policy-practice nexus, and the more varied and uncertain their relations, the greater the possibilities of process openness and transparency that exist. Like the policy-practice nexus of policy and political organisations and activities to which they are often tied more or less closely, globalised ideological constructs tend to be unsettled and, at times, unsettling. Particularly at these initial stages of policy- practice nexus, they are more likely to be uncertain rather than stable structures of ideas and values. This has the effect of opening up the entire policy-practice nexus process, of freeing the process from simple domination by any one organised actor or coalition of actors. Yet global ideological elements and relations take shape and come into play within a hierarchy of global and local agencies and groups. A determinate order of insti- tutions, powers, interests and activates operates through complexes of policy-practice nexus ideas and values, filling out, specifying, anchoring and, often short-cutting their formal content or meaning. This may impose ideological as well as practical limits on the extent to which and how policy reform processes can be opened up or broadened. Thus, the fact that promoters or supporters of policy-practice nexus and develop- ment often do not efficiently realise in practice the potential of the ideas and goals they promote, that the volume of their interventions is not nearly proportional to their im- pact raises the issue of whether the ideas in question may be fundamentally constrained at the moment of their conception and implementation by the very institutions and technocratic structures that ground their articulation. Within countries, the supply of ideas of policy-practice nexus may be artificially deflated by particular strategies and mechanisms used by incumbent governments to manage entire reform processes. Conceptual possibilities may be left unrealised, or sub-optimally realised, insofar as governing elite are preoccupied with filling out those spaces of uncertainty in policy- practice nexus political thought, discourse and action that alternative or opposition par- ties would occupy in the course of their own engagement. In the sphere of ideology, openness of policy-practice nexus process is concerned in part with allowing free ex- pression of diverse ideas and beliefs and permitting unrestricted taking of positions by citizens on specific issues. It has to do with creating conditions for the existence of the broadest possible range of opinions and sentiments. • Are all ideas and values allowed to contend? Are there laws or unwritten codes which prevent or hinder intellectual and cultural freedom? • Do the views and perspectives of society have a significant and legitimate place in policy projects and processes? Is good faith criticism of a particular policy strategy construed by the ruling stratum in question as negation of policy- practice nexus as such? Page 5 | Legislative and institutional trajectories for the RPP nexus: BTC 2011
    • Questions such as these are important in examining and assessing the ideological basis for policy-practice nexus. But, as important as it is, this is only one context or level or analysis of the breadth and depth of the policy-practice nexus process on the terrain of ideology. There is another level of analysis, concerned with the extent and nature of openness of distinct ideological constructs to one another, with modes of articulation of given sets of ideas and values and of representations of specific issues relative to others. The concern here is not so much the number and diversity of ideas, values and opinions allowed to gain currency during policy-practice nexus as modes of their competitive and co-operative articulation. For example, • Does policy-practice nexus enter national processes as an external ideology, con- structing and deploying its concepts in sterile abstraction from African national beliefs and values? Does it come into play in total opposition to, or in co- operation with historic national values and sentiments? • In the struggle over the establishment of rules of economic and political en- gagement, do African states equate the articulation of Washington institutions with the production of broad-based concepts, norms and goals which should govern their leadership of policy-practice nexus? Do such processes signify change in terms of the transformation of the immediate stuff of national politics into an activity mediated and guided by objective and critical policy standards, rules and principles?5. Discussion 5.1. Analytical perspectives of the research-policy-practice nexus It is easy to follow the current trend within the international community and advo- cate policy-practice nexus as a desirable form of development paradigm. Nor is it diffi- cult to make normative judgements about how nations should behave if policy-practice nexus is to grow into a positive agent of change. But it is not so easy to conceptualise policy-practice nexus as a working process, which is balanced against strategy, to de- termine what makes for real, as opposed to vacuously formal process. As a way of con- tributing to the overcoming or lessening of these difficulties we may theorise policy- practice nexus as the dynamic interaction of strategy and process. It is possible to see policy-practice nexus as the playing out of objective and critical standards, rules and concepts of economic, social and political conduct in the goals and activities of all par- ticipants, those of public officials who make and administer the rules as well as those of ordinary citizens. The issue here is not simply one of application of rules to particular activities. Nor is it one of dissolving agent-catered strategies of policy-practice nexus into objective prin- ciples and norms. It is rather the production or articulation of process elements and forms within and through the strategic (and non-strategic) activities of various partici- pants. 5.1.1. a tendency to narrow policy-practice nexus to the terms and categories of im- mediate, not very well considered action, a naive realism, as it were; The notion of naïve realism is invoked here to point to certain conceptual shortcomings in current perspectives on policy reform in Africa. These shortcom- ings can be seen as outcomes of more or less conscious attempts of indigenous governments and their international backers to quickly get their hands on urgent or practical matters of policy practice without worrying much about abstract theory. One manifestation of naive realism is the pre-emotive socialisation of policy ideas and practices, as demonstrated, for example, by the definition, con- ceptualisation and validation of popular participation in elections in Africa. A process which often spawns an attendant rhetorical over simplification of difficult concepts, this socialisation is disabling as a method of both grasping policy ideas Page 6 | Legislative and institutional trajectories for the RPP nexus: BTC 2011
    • and rules in all their openness and complexity, and making the ideas tractable to transparent and sustainable institutional practice.5.1.2. inattention to problems of articulation policy-practice systems and processes within local realities rather than simply as formal or abstract possibilities; When it is not dissolved into the immediate reality of political, often partisan or ethnocentric activity, policy pluralism in Africa is likely to be represented as pure principle that needs only proper application. Practitioners and analysts of democratisation in the continent tend to quickly pass over the particular nature of policy pluralism in fragmentary presence in much of Africa, adjusting it against an ideal-general conception of what it might be. On the implicit, theoreti- cally complacent assumption that formalistic, rhetorical modes of circulation of policy plural ideas and values in Africa nearly exhaust their articulation there, one often rushes to matters of implementation. Consequently, critical problems concerning the philosophical and practical entrenchment of policy plural system and process in Africa receive scant attention. The fundamental issues of how the concepts, standards and practices of policy pluralism could be generated and sus- tained under historically hectic conditions, and the manner in which they are likely to gain systemic integrity and autonomy as well as broad social currency are inadequately addressed.5.1.3. a nearly exclusive concern in certain institutional perspectives on policy- practice nexus with generic attributes and characteristics of social, economic, cultural and political organisations and consequent neglect of analysis in terms of specific strategies and performances of organisations; Institutional approaches to the study of policy plural reforms in Africa call for analysis of the effectiveness of government and non-government organisations in contributing to the reforms in terms of the generic characteristics of the organisa- tions. The characteristics include: autonomy, capacity, complexity, cohesion and a combination of these. Presumably, the more organisations and institutions are endowed with these attributes, the greater their strength, and the more likely they are to promote policy plural transition.5.1.4. ambiguity as to whether African think tanks are agents or objects of the nexus: In the current drive for policy pluralism and development in Africa society and institutions within it are foregrounded as the arena, agents and instruments of the movement. Internal and external demands for good governance and de- mocratisation in Africa and the need to reform the indigenous state into a system of transparent practices have placed a heavy emphasis on social institutions as autonomous actors within policy plural projects. This is particularly the case re- garding NGOs, but it also applies to other voluntary agencies in society. While the co-operation of governments or would-be governments must be secured for tran- sitions to policy pluralism, it cannot be expected that pressure for policy regime transformation will come from above. The most likely and most effective initiative will come from below, outside the decrepit, authoritarian state, in civil society. (Global Coalition for Africa / Africa Leadership Forum, 1993) Society yields the spontaneous interests, demands and insti- tutional mechanisms of policy plural transition. From this perspective, the state has only a limited role to play. Its function will not be to manage societys policy plural aspirations and activities, but to create the enabling conditions for their free play. Institutions and groups in civil society must be allowed to form and run themselves. When they begin to address longer socio-economic and political is- sues beyond their limited sectional concerns, or to co-operate with the state on certain matters, they should be able to do so in terms of their specific interests and competence, not as mere instruments or extensions of governments. Page 7 | Legislative and institutional trajectories for the RPP nexus: BTC 2011
    • 5.1.5. inadequate treatment of the role of policy transfers from the Bretton Wood In- stitutions and of relations between global and indigenous aspects or dimensions of policy-practice nexus Multilateral, bilateral and non-governmental external agencies have in recent years taken a large number of initiatives aimed directly or indirectly at helping Africa democratise its way out of economic chaos and political instability. In do- ing so, they rely on a wide variety of programmes, institutional mechanisms and policies. Indeed, growing external involvement in African projects of democrati- sation and economic recovery has resulted in increasingly challenging problems of conceptualising and understanding the role of international agencies. These, then, are some of the analytical limitations that characterise existing perspec- tives on transition to policy pluralism. African governments and societies undoubtedly depend on international assistance in their projects of reform. Such assistance is vital for the projects in many areas and at many levels. Yet it must be recognised that external support creates problems as well as opportunities for democratisation on Africa. In con- fronting the imperatives of political change, nothing is more challenging for our polities than the strategic co-ordination of diverse global and local elements, relations and activi- ties within themselves, nor has anything greater potential for enabling them achieve suc- cessful transitions to policy pluralism. This leads us to some fundamental issues of the findings and conclusion to stem the tide of policy transfers that are indubitably a failure in African policy implementation.5.2. Particular representations and explicit general forms in the nexus In the light of the above questions, it is possible to draw a conceptual distinction be- tween two levels of articulation of ideology in the nexus and to note the implications of their relations for process openness. • Particular representations: There are first, representations of specific interests, identities, needs, wishes, goals, claims, demands and so on, of different in differ- ent individuals, groups and communities. Particular representations have to do with ideologically loaded articulations of interests, needs and activities which may appear or become so immediate as to be taken for spontaneous realities. • Explicit general forms: These are to be distinguished from a second level of pro- duction and circulation of policy ideology where broad-based concepts, princi- ples and rules take shape and come into play. Explicit general forms of policy- practice nexus refer to systemic categories and institutional mechanisms; they objectively, mediate and generalise particular representations. In examining or assessing the ideological possibilities and problems of the nexus, particular representations and general forms need to be addressed in terms of their rela- tion, even as they retain their distinct conceptual status. For the two levels tend to in- corporate each other in a more or less uncertain and complex process, as well as consti- tuting relatively autonomous coherence in themselves. The breadth and depth of generic forms cannot be grasped or judged simply on their own worth, i.e., on their theoretical correctness or the rigour of their formal construction. Nevertheless, this should not overlook the matter of how far particular constructs inform and condition RPP concepts and rules; but has to conceptualise the relation between the two levels of production of policy and implications for openness of the nexus. One way is to think of it in terms of concrete instances and abstract systems. A sys- tem of policy concepts, principles, rules and procedures provides objective standards to which every instance of representation of interests, needs, demands, and intentions must conform. In this light the nexus appears as a process in which a global structural model of ideology is applied to local contexts. It is seen as the extension of the ideologi- cal and institutional contents of the model toward projects of policy reform. Page 8 | Legislative and institutional trajectories for the RPP nexus: BTC 2011
    • This conceptualisation may not be entirely mistaken, but it is far from satisfactory. Generic policy forms are not simply pure ideology devoid of practical content; and par- ticular constructs are not merely points of application of systemic policy elements which are wholly external to them and in whose articulation they have no role to play. If gen- eral forms are seen as pre-given standards to which every instance of representation of particular interests must conform, the effect will be the restricting of the RPP nexus openness. For that will mean pushing ideas and values produced in the plenitude of so- cial experience to the background and accord primacy to a mere system of abstract cate- gories, giving primary place to the ideologies of politicians, activists and intellectuals. It must also be noted here that the conceptual mechanisms of policy-practice nexus can- not come alive in local contexts merely as generic forms. They make themselves felt only to the extent people address through them their felt needs and concerns and the circum- stances they face particular choices. Alternative way of looking at the relation between general forms and particular con- tents in the RPP nexus would give precedence to the latter over the former. This per- spective has merits. It can work as a corrective to the view of the RPP nexus as a mere extension of a system of abstract categories to concrete instances. However, the issue here is not one of simply giving primacy to specific contents over general forms. The concepts and principles of RPP may allow particular interests and intentions to perme- ate them, yet should take shape through such particularities as distinct, relatively autonomous articulations. In some cases, to tie policy systems to specific ideological in- tentions and constructs is not to appreciate the systems inherent breadth and complex- ity; it is, rather, to operate at levels and within forms of knowledge that encompass only a limited part of the systems full range. (Costantinos, BT., 1996) In addition, governments managing RPP processes may use strategies of interest ar- ticulation or identity construction that in effect displace or distort the generic forms that provide the standards for their efforts. A given organisation may operate the formal concepts and rules in such a way as to maximise their openness and transparency, but the opposite is not uncommon: a theoretically open and free RPP process may, in actu- ality, be dominated and narrowed by the particular ideological agenda of assignable par- ticipants. The relation between explicit general forms and particular representations can best be grasped as their dynamic, mutually constitutive or regulative articulation. It is well to recognise that the former do not have effective generality or objectivity of their own, independently of particular elements and contents. Thus, RPP nexus here entails conceptualisation in global categories that are invested with varying local meanings that are themselves in part actualisation of trends in inter- national political and developmental thought. The openness, transparency and com- plexity of the nexus will depend on the extent to which and how global and local levels or dimensions are articulated with each other. This means that the attempt to subsume the nexus by some particular political agenda or ideological intention must, therefore, limit rather than enhance openness of RPP nexus. What the explicit general forms sig- nify is no particular strategy but the very process itself, than any particular agenda or intention must, to the extent it allows particular forms to work themselves out through it. Conversely, strategies must take on generic elements, dimensions and functions of policy process. (Costantinos, BT., 1996)5.3. Shift of analytical focus in the nexus Highlighting the mutually constitutive and regulative articulation of strategy and process, we shift the centre of analysis away from the two as separate formations that enter only externally to each other. This shift of analytical focus serves to emphasise the critical point that the task of broadly structuring the nexus as a political economy sys- tem is more important than that of promoting it within the specific national programme of a particular nation. The making of broadly inclusive process should consist of an ar- Page 9 | Legislative and institutional trajectories for the RPP nexus: BTC 2011
    • ticulation of process and agency which can be sustained in its structure or system by any political party or government operating within it. (Costantinos, BT., 1996) Insofar as existing perspectives on policy reform in Africa neglect to pose the prob- lem of articulation of policy pluralism as a relatively autonomous mode of analysis, it would consist of a set of activities in which universal, mainly Western, concepts and standards are neatly applied to, as distinct from produced or re-produced in, African contexts and conditions. Even at the level of application alone, it is largely overlooked that international models may enter societies in Africa through a proliferation of pro- grammes and mechanisms that hinder the growth of open and effective processes, so much that they may retard the development of indigenous experience and capacity.5.4. The proliferation of foreign aid interventions and Policy Transfers In the arena of capacity building by donors, the stress on standard organisational dimensions and traits, which borders on over-emphasis, is problematic. • Capacity development seeks to achieve a level of strength of institutions in Afri- can societies. This is particularly the case with countries severely impoverished and weakened by chronic under development, the ravages of civil war, political instability and massive social dislocation, but it also holds for other African na- tions. The emphasis on generic organisational attributes begs the crucial ques- tion of how African societies, considered not very well endowed with strong in- digenous institutions characterised by autonomy, capacity, complexity and cohe- sion, will make successful transitions to policy pluralism. • It also makes the rather questionable connection between the strength of institu- tions and the likelihood of their promotion of policy pluralism. Why should one equate, for example, the cohesion of an organisation with what that organisa- tion actually does, or how it might behave politically? Should one suppose that an institution, say, incumbents all over Africa, will allow, in virtue of its auton- omy and capacity, opposition groups to claim and win a share of power? Is it possible to draw an analytical distinction between an organisations structural characteristics which are relatively independent of specific contents, and its functioning (activities, ideology, leadership style…)? (Costantinos, BT., 1996) The growth of foreign interventions seems in marked contrast to the limited thought and effort exerted by democratisers of African polity to put the interventions in coherent theoretical or strategic perspective. Indeed, through particular strategies, performances and self-evaluations, governmental and non-state agencies in Africa can make significant contributions to policy pluralism even when the generic endowments they bring to the task are limited. Capacity building for policy pluralism is important, but it is also impor- tant that institutions in civil society and the state in Africa make the most effective use of whatever actual capacity they have for igniting policy change; which begs the question • What is the overall rationality or significance of the great traffic of interna- tional programmes and projects of capacity development in Africa, the prolifer- ating activities that seem to show little regard for economy of co-ordination; not to mention new forms of participatory research into social engineering that seem to haunt the rural landscape indefinitely? • How far and in what ways do various international agencies’ programmes, mechanisms, forms of knowledge and technical assistance feed on one another in helping set the boundaries of policy reform in Africa? The important issues that these questions suggest are not sufficiently addressed, or even raised, in much of the current discussion of political transitions. Insofar as the ac- tivities of external agencies in Africa are not understood and engaged in partly as indige- nous societal potentialities developing gradually into actual structures, functions and characteristics of polities and societies, their policy impact may diminish with their pro- liferation. This can mean little more than a weakly co-ordinated multiplication of pro- Page 10 | Legislative and institutional trajectories for the RPP nexus: BTC 2011
    • jects which have immediately recognisable or measurable effects in limited areas, but which seem to suspend rather than serve the ultimate goals of reforming African political systems. The strategic co-ordination of diverse international activities supportive of pol- icy development in Africa can become a challenge both for the international agencies in- volved and for the Governments. This is in part because of limitations in the individual characteristics of the activities, their narrowly technocratic orientation and shortcomings in the relational and contextual articulation of external programmes and projects, their limited generalisability and variability. (Costantinos, BT., 1996)6. Guiding rails and tools for the nexus 6.1. Research protocol for investigating the nexus: The following common sets of tools by which to measure empirically the institu- tional concepts of rules and organisations that must be adopted into the methodology of the research in the study into a specific country setting of research-policy-practice in- terfacing. The relevant rules are those that promote policy pluralism and governance. With reference to policy pluralism and policy governance, these are rules concerning: • policy contest (i.e. unrestricted expression of a full range of social interests); • policy participation (i.e. channels for citizen involvement); • administrative accountability, transparency, and predictability; Rules may or may not be formalised. When formalised, they are codified at three levels: constitutional rules, legislated rules and administrative rules. In addition to for- mal rules, there are effective policy practices that actually determine who gets what, and when. Traditionally, African policy leaders and followers commonly relate to one an- other according to the widespread informal practices of patronage, by which material rewards are traded for personal policy loyalty. One should endeavour to reveal such hidden codes of real policy behaviour that lie behind the law. In order to determine whether policy pluralism is occurring, the research should document whether effective policy practices have been broadened to allow more par- ticipation, competition, accountability, transparency and predictability. Often this will involve the imposition of formal rules in a situation where personal discretion has been the order of the day. Policy pluralism in part involves the acceptance by all par- ticipants to subordinate their policy behaviour to an agreed upon set of written rules. The research protocol must address issues of operationalising rules, dimensions of or- ganisations, organisational inventory. The inventory includes information on the posi- tion taken by leaders and members of organisations on rules for policy contestation and participation. It will also identify which is (are) the lead organisation(s) in each sector taking initiatives to promote policy practice. • Organisational Context: In order to set the context, the research will provide a brief narrative the countrys distinctive institutional history. This account will focus on the way in which the balance of policy interface between the interac- tions of civic, state and international organisations is established. • Organisational Characteristics: In order to compare organisations, the research will focus on four key organisational characteristics. These generic characteris- tics apply to state and non-state organisations in any country setting. These are • Organisational Autonomy: independence of the organisation to set any pur- sue its own goals in both human terms and material terms; • Organisational Capacity: effectiveness of the organisation at achieving its stated objectives via human and material resources; • Organisational Complexity: bureaucratisation of an organisations internal structure: An organisation with a professional staff and specialised sub- units is more complex than an organisation run by generalist members who participate in all organisational tasks; and Page 11 | Legislative and institutional trajectories for the RPP nexus: BTC 2011
    • • Organisational Cohesion: sharing of common values, goals and organisa- tional culture among leaders and members; (GCA/ALF, 1993) In combination, these characteristics determine the relative strength or weakness of an organisation. An organisation that selects its own leaders, raises its own revenues, has a popular base, has adequate staff and budget, is organised for specialised tasks, and puts forward a common from to the world is stronger than an organisation that lacks these characteristics. In addition, an organisation that is policy plural in its own internal procedures is more likely to contribute positively to a policy plural transition at the national level than one that is not. The most important attribute is organisational autonomy. In the context of policy transitions, autonomy primarily connotes independ- ence from the executive branch of the state.6.2. Civic participation: Open and inclusive policy making is recognized to have a potential of reducing im- plementation costs and taps wider networks for innovation in policy making and service delivery. Effective engagement needs commitment from both the government and citi- zens. Government should be committed in creating conducive environment and provid- ing good leadership whereas citizens should be active, willing to cooperate and be well informed. (OECD 2001) The agenda setting process, the participant selection, the role of local authorities should be well articulated and based on certain principles that lead to the successful achievement of the overall purpose of the engagement. In genuine public engagement it is normal to observe the convening of diverse representative groups of people to wrestle with information from a variety of viewpoints all to the end of making better, often more creative decisions. In such type of engagement, to build mutual understanding, to meaningfully affect policy development, and inspire collaborative action among citizens and institutions certain core principles must be followed. These principles reflect the common beliefs and understandings of those working in the fields of public engage- ment, conflict resolution, and collaboration. (OECD 2001, WBI 2005) • Careful planning, preparation • Openness and learning, transparency • Inclusion - participatory culture & • shared purpose, trust, impact and action demographic diversity • Collaboration & Sustained engagement CSOs are equipped with the knowledge and skills to conduct civic education and capacity development for communities; to mediate dialogues among government, po- litical leaders, citizen groups, the private sector, etc.; and to monitor development pro- grams and publish the results and to develop and promote policy recommendations. It is also evident that CSOs have better capacity to engage with the government in com- parison to political society. In some countries, CSOs have a better understanding of the community’s development priorities, since they are working at the community level and often facilitate community-led assessment processes and development planning. Therefore, their counsel is often based on empirical data and information from the communities due to their wide networks; in addition to the fact that they are usually more equipped with various instruments to suggest concrete mechanisms to promote good governance than political parties are. The following guiding principles strengthen open and inclusive policy making as a means to improving their policy performance and service delivery. (WMD, 2010) • Leadership and strong commitment to information, consultation and active par- ticipation in policy-making is needed. • Public consultation and active participation should be undertaken as early in the policy process as possible to allow a greater range of policy solutions to emerge and to raise the chances of successful implementation, with adequate financial, human and technical resources for participation in policy-making to be effective; Page 12 | Legislative and institutional trajectories for the RPP nexus: BTC 2011
    • • Governments have an obligation to account for the use they make of citizens in- puts received through feedback, public consultation and active participation. Gov- ernments need the tools, information and capacity to evaluate their performance in providing information, conducting consultation and engaging citizens in order to adapt to new requirements and changing conditions for policy-making. Gov- ernments benefit from active citizens and a dynamic civil society and can take concrete actions to facilitate access to information, raise awareness, and strengthen civic education and skills as well as to support CSOs. (OECD 2001)7. Emerging paradigms of RPP nexus The RPP nexus can be grasped in terms of the ideological constructs that are the very constitutive ingredients of governing institutions. Because public sector inefficiencies un- dermine citizen’s faith, the legitimacy of the RPP transformation is very much dependent in important ways on it being perceived as reasonably honest, transparent and accountable in the execution of the states responsibility. Hence, it is essential to undertake a review of vari- ous policies with a view to complement the documents with global best practices that entails undertaking a systematic and independent review of the capacities and utility of institutions at all levels, and codes of conduct for political authorities to address the relations between capital accumulation, rules, institutions and RPP sustainability as shown below; Capital formation and accumulation Human, spiritual & social capital Policy, institution and strategic analysis. Local adaptive strategies Legal empowerment of the poor RPP Interface Transformation Participatory planning Human security and development continuum Processual/ Strategic elements Sustainability Benchmarks Rules: constitutional, legislative, administrative Resilience, economic efficiency, so- Institutions: autonomy, capacity, complexity, cohesion cial equitability, and sustainability Levels of application: household, community, wereda, region and federal Fig. 1 Synergy in RPP interface This entails advancing a political leadership that has intimate knowledge of public policy analysis, formulation and management, augured on strategies and processes that can ce- ment policy consensus, install ancillary organisations that can carry out the stated policy and not see it subverted, neglected or undermined and ensure consistency and commitment en- suring that the policies are implemented with sufficient energy (George H. Copeman, 1963). In this regard, founding independent human quality development think tanks would be the single most powerful tool and investment in human qualities, a concept of learning through- out life that has emerged as the key paradigm of the 21st century. (Lenn MP, 2004). Hence, an essential tool for expanding multi-sectoral actions to engrain the tenets of RPP is mainstreaming mechanisms through which multi-sectoral strategies can be analysed and acted upon, within demarcation of responsibility, building up multi-echelon, yet coher- ent interventions, based on tools and processes employed to achieve the above. Policy planning and execution is a complex, multi-directional, and unpredictable process (World Bank, 2008), understood through policy complexity (systems components, differentiation and interdependence), policy uncertainty (lack of information, knowledge - what matters) and triangulation (investigating each issue in different ways and from different angles). A political economy approach does provide an exposé of a potentially effective technique, much more profound than the conventional capacity building solutions. It stretches operational con- cerns beyond mechanical elucidation of RPP to underpin the need for analysing policies, strategies, structures, processes that make up a system within which individual citizens, stakeholders, institutions participate and the modus operandi by which policy reform is ne- gotiated and played out in the political amphitheatre. Complexity and uncertainty theories Page 13 | Legislative and institutional trajectories for the RPP nexus: BTC 2011
    • notwithstanding, the actionable approach can be described as a set of normative goals, as in- tegrative concepts, which aim simultaneously to maintain or enhance resource productivity, secure ownership of and access to administrative tools and assets. Participatory Situation analysis: Policy, strategy, processes and structures for Public Sector Management Political economy strategic analysis of information on institutions, stake- Evaluation holders and rules collected and collated START Managing RPP Strategic In- formation Develop political economy tools and institutional arrangements for implementationSustained implementationof RPP and active feedback Blend RPP to national Stra- on accomplishments tegic Governance Frame- works RPP Decentralised Manage- ment at District and Commu- Mainstreaming and integration nity levels RPP operational plans Fig 2 - Mainstreaming of RPP ideals Many ideas of state-led policy-practice interface are unavoidably invasive. Hence, the RPP must tally very well with the parameters of the idea of human security. (UN, 2003) The requisite foundation for this is the advancement of a neutral civil service which participates in the political process; where the leader is a civil servant and has complete administrative responsibility, making the civil service an active RPP instrument in carrying out policies, co- ordination across tiers of government and ensuring local level focus. (UNDP 1998) On the other hand, knowledge Management initiatives targeted at satisfying the needs of all stakeholders must be set in motion along with a multi-track communications strategy that enhances the capacity of RPP Communities of Practice to articulate their vision, mis- sion, perceptions and value systems. It enables decision-making based on fair access to and analysis of relevant information through functional tracks, channels and electronic media for information exchange, which ultimately augments shared-responsibility. Since RPP proc- esses determine societal goals to solve social problems, hence, policy implementation is vital, challenging, and complex and affected by many variables. Implementation researchers with different perspectives have tried to identify factors contributing to the success of policies. • The classical or generation one researchers viewed implementation as administrative chores that once policy is legislated, the mandated institution can implement it. • Second generation researchers tried to show the limitations of classical views based on different case studies by pointing to two different approaches top down and bot- tom up as factors for success or failure of policy implementation. • Third generation researchers have tried to show the complexity of implementation, and tried to narrow the gap between top down and bottom up approach and also fo- cuses on hybrid models that focuses on many explanatory variables that can affect implementation. Approaches to implementation are thus moved towards conver- gence, to focus on mainly on the content, context, commitment, capacity and client coalitions. (Jack Rabinh et al, 2007:89) The policy environment of many developing countries is also described as that one that is characterised by uncertainties, resource scarcity and absence of pluralism. Developing coun- tries have poor records of policy implementation, and hence their inability to rid of poverty is manifestation of this. Since most of them are aid dependent, they are prone to donor Page 14 | Legislative and institutional trajectories for the RPP nexus: BTC 2011
    • driven policies, which do not fit to their context and create difficult of implementation. Poli-cymaking processes are also dominated by governments with minimum involvement of citi-zens, rendering implementation complicated. On the other hand, the proliferation of varied aid conditionalities tied to specific policiesand sectors - structural adjustment programmes to be implemented, good governance re-form measurers to be taken, administrative codes to be followed, human rights to be pro-tected, environmental regulations to be adhered often outpace the development of coherentstandards, rules and concepts by and within nation-states. With all the multiplicity of differ-ent, not very well co-ordinated programmes, mechanisms and activities, it has become diffi-cult to maintain a sense of direction, in both a strategic and process sense. Local processeshave generally not matched global action. While, the trend is towards participatory policymaking process, nonetheless, a manifes-tation of the naïve realist approach in the RPP nexus is the simple equation of partisanelaboration of ideology with the production of ideas, values and goals in civil society. Here,our attention and thought are diverted from the critical destination between, on the onehand, a system of abstract categories as a construct of an explicit rationalisation, a formalconceptualisation and design, and, broad and diverse domains of ideology and purposeful-ness in the plenitude of social experience, on the other. One is discouraged from acknowl-edging the distance and tension between these two spheres; instead, one is led to believe thatideological construction in one sphere is reducible to another realm. Statements such as the constitution must be a creation of the citizenry ... and ... lawshould come from the populace rather than palace, for example, suggest the form of a puta-tive attribution of authorial agency in the making of constitutions to a civil society that is inthe backburner of policy. In sum, naive realism within existing perspectives in Africa emphasises the imme- diacies of institutional and political activity to the neglect of the constitutive and regu- lative concepts and norms that define, structure and validate policy institutions and practices. It attempts to establish a direct relation to social experience, largely by pass- ing the intangible yet no less significant terrain of critical political thought. Its immedi- ate turn to the practical tasks of inducing people to participate in ostensibly policy ac- tivities such as elections, the full meaning of which is often beyond the grasp of the par- ticipants, tends to become a substitute for the making of transparent and open rules of political engagement. This relative inattention leads analysts and practitioners to make internal observa- tions and assessments in terms of the pluralistic or un-pluralistic performances of Afri- can polities without raising the question of setting up or securing the polities as policy plural systems in the first place. For example, in the face of the fact that constitutions had never actually been effectively established, especially as policy plural structures, they are criticised for failing to protect the rights of the citizenry. Policy pluralism must actually exist, take definite shape and become a working process, before particular criticisms, claims and demands can be based on it. (Costantinos, BT., 1996) Whether policy pluralism in Africa stems from individual freedom or collective rights,government policy or citizen action, private value or public norm, the upshot of the relativeinattention to problems of articulation of open policy plural systems and processes in itselfmakes it at once the most concrete of idea systems. Within current projects of political re-form, policy pluralism is either conventionalised or sterilised on terrain of theory and oftenvacuously formalised on the ground of practice. It enters African polity and society in rela-tively abstract and plain form, yet is expected to land itself to immediate and vital Africanpolitys socio-political experience. It suggests itself and seems within reach only to elude andappears readily practicable only to resist realisation. Page 15 | Legislative and institutional trajectories for the RPP nexus: BTC 2011
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