Working with complexity: Six steps to enhance research


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John Young's presentation at the GDN workshop on 'Maximizing the Impact of Agricultural Research in Africa' held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in October 2008. In his talk, he outlines how organisations can work within complex policy processes to achieve impact and expands on several tools that can be used as part of this process.

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  • Working with complexity: Six steps to enhance research

    1. 1. Working with complexity: Six steps to enhance research John Young [email_address]
    2. 2. The six lessons <ul><li>Policy processes are complex </li></ul><ul><li>Research-based evidence plays a minor role </li></ul><ul><li>But it is possible! </li></ul><ul><li>Need a holistic understanding and strategic approach. </li></ul><ul><li>Need to do much more than research. </li></ul><ul><li>Intent. </li></ul>
    3. 3. Influencing policy in 6 steps
    4. 4. An analytical framework External Influences Socio-economic and cultural influences, donor policies etc The political context – political and economic structures and processes, culture, institutional pressures, incremental vs radical change etc. The evidence – credibility, the degree it challenges received wisdom, research approaches and methodology, simplicity of the message, how it is packaged etc The links between policy and research communities – networks, relationships, power, competing discourses, trust, knowledge etc.
    5. 5. Policy Organisation Map Small and Medium Scale Enterprise Policy Programme. Ministry of Finance. Egypt.
    6. 6. The AIIM tool <ul><li>Use the Alignment Interest Influence Matrix (AIIM) to identify the critical stakeholders </li></ul>Develop enthusiasm to address topic Learn in partnership Develop awareness and enthusiasm Challenge existing beliefs High General level of alignment Low Low High Interest in specific topic <ul><li>Map actors on the matrix </li></ul><ul><li>Identify which are the most influential </li></ul><ul><li>Who do you work with directly? </li></ul>
    7. 7. AIIM: some examples
    8. 8. Why projects fail.... Project Effort Other Actors Inputs Activities Outputs Outcomes Impact Behaviour Change
    9. 9. The Three Stages OUTCOME MAPPING: Building Learning and Reflection into Development Programs Sarah Earl, Fred Carden, and Terry Smutylo
    10. 10. Force Field Analysis 5* 3 ? ? Total = ? MEF Time ? ? Negative forces 4 1 2 ? Total = ? Funds CSOs Public demand ? Positive forces 2 1 ? ? Your influence on the force Plan: Minister of Trade puts forward pro-poor trade and complementary policy programme to the cabinet by April 2008 4 2 2 ? Your influence on the force
    11. 11. SWOT Analysis <ul><li>What type of policy influencing skills and capacities do we have? </li></ul><ul><li>In what areas have our staff used them more effectively? </li></ul><ul><li>Who are our strongest allies? </li></ul><ul><li>When have they worked with us? </li></ul><ul><li>Are there any windows of opportunity? </li></ul><ul><li>What can affect our ability to influence policy? </li></ul>Skills and abilities Funding lines Commitment to positions Contacts and Partners Existing activities Other orgs relevant to the issue Resources: financial, technical, human Political and policy space Other groups or forces Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats
    12. 12. Competencies Framework
    13. 13. M&E & Impact measurement <ul><li>Strategy and direction: Logframes; Social Network Analysis; Impact Pathways; Modular Matrices </li></ul><ul><li>Management : ‘Fit for Purpose’ Reviews; ‘Lighter Touch’ Quality Audits; Horizontal Evaluation; Appreciative Inquiry </li></ul><ul><li>Outputs: Evaluating academic articles and research reports; Evaluating policy and briefing papers; Evaluating websites; Evaluating networks; After Action Reviews </li></ul><ul><li>Uptake: Impact Logs; New Areas for Citation Analysis; User Surveys </li></ul><ul><li>Outcomes and impacts: Outcome Mapping; RAPID Outcome Assessment; Most Significant Change; Innovation Histories; Episode Studies </li></ul>
    14. 14. Groundwater in India <ul><li>to maximise impact of DFID forest/ ground water research project in India </li></ul><ul><li>Researchers, policy makers and activists </li></ul><ul><li>Used framework to analyse factors in water sector in India </li></ul><ul><li>Developed strategy for final phase: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Less research </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More communication </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Developing champions in regional and national government </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Local, Regional & National advocacy campaign </li></ul></ul>
    15. 15. Questions <ul><li>Is this feasible in your work? </li></ul><ul><li>What other tools have you found useful to: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Understand the context? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Identify the key stakeholders? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Develop strategies for change? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What should the next group look at? </li></ul>