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Research Institute for the Environment & Livelihoods
http://riel.cdu.edu.au
The attraction of a synthesis centre to
policy makers and government
ANDREW CAMPBELL
CESAB 9 OCTOBRE 2013
2
• Introduction
• Science-policy interface
• Why would policy/government be interested
in synthesis?
• Lessons for synthesis centres?
Outline
Personal declarations
• Farming background south-western Victoria, Australia
– Family farming in the district since 1860s, own farm managed 1987—
– 450ha: 30% farm forestry, 10% environmental reserves, 60% leased
to a neighbour for lamb production
Personal declarations
• Farming background south-western Victoria, Australia
– Family farming in the district since 1860s, own farm managed 1987—
– 450ha: 30% farm forestry, 10% environmental reserves, 60% leased
to a neighbour for lamb production
• Forestry & rural sociology: Creswick, Melbourne & Wageningen
• Forester Victorian government 1984-88
Personal declarations
• Farming background south-western Victoria, Australia
– Family farming in the district since 1860s, own farm managed 1987—
– 450ha: 30% farm forestry, 10% environmental reserves, 60% leased
to a neighbour for lamb production
• Forestry & rural sociology: Creswick, Melbourne & Wageningen
• Forester Victorian government 1984-88
• National Landcare Facilitator 1989-92
• 5 years as a Senior Executive in Australian Government
• 7 years as CEO of a national research funder
Personal declarations
• Farming background south-western Victoria, Australia
– Family farming in the district since 1860s, own farm managed 1987—
– 450ha: 30% farm forestry, 10% environmental reserves, 60% leased
to a neighbour for lamb production
• Forestry & rural sociology: Creswick, Melbourne & Wageningen
• Forester Victorian government 1984-88
• National Landcare Facilitator 1989-92
• 5 years as a Senior Executive in Australian Government
• 7 years as CEO of a national research funder
• 4 years as an independent consultant (including review of NCEAS &
NEON for the Australian science ministry)
• 4 years as Chair of the Board of TERN
• 3 years as an academic, Charles Darwin University in Darwin…
Profound technical/policy
challenges
1. To decouple economic growth from carbon emissions
Profound technical/policy
challenges
1. To decouple economic growth from carbon emissions
2. To adapt to an increasingly difficult climate
Profound technical/policy
challenges
1. To decouple economic growth from carbon emissions
2. To adapt to an increasingly difficult climate
3. To increase water productivity
— decoupling the 1 litre per calorie relationship
Profound technical/policy
challenges
1. To decouple economic growth from carbon emissions
2. To adapt to an increasingly difficult climate
3. To increase water productivity
— decoupling the 1 litre per calorie relationship
4. To increase energy productivity
– more food energy out per unit of energy in
– while shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy
Profound technical/policy
challenges
1. To decouple economic growth from carbon emissions
2. To adapt to an increasingly difficult climate
3. To increase water productivity
— decoupling the 1 litre per calorie relationship
4. To increase energy productivity
– more food energy out per unit of energy in
– while shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy
5. To develop more sustainable food systems
– In competition for land and water with the resources sector
– while conserving biodiversity and
– improving landscape amenity, soil health, animal welfare & human
health
Profound technical/policy
challenges
1. To decouple economic growth from carbon emissions
2. To adapt to an increasingly difficult climate
3. To increase water productivity
— decoupling the 1 litre per calorie relationship
4. To increase energy productivity
– more food energy out per unit of energy in
– while shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy
5. To develop more sustainable food systems
– In competition for land and water with the resources sector
– while conserving biodiversity and
– improving landscape amenity, soil health, animal welfare & human
health
6. TO DO ALL OF THE ABOVE SIMULTANEOUSLY!
—improving sustainability and resilience
The Science-Policy Interface
• Contested, crowded, contextual
• Stakes high, decisions urgent, facts uncertain or disputed
• Science thrives on a contest of ideas
– This can be problematic in public debate (e.g. climate change)
• Public officials just one of many sources of advice
• Ministers/governments prefer wins, credit, initiatives
– over problems, conflict, confusion
13
The Science-Policy Interface
• Contested, crowded, contextual
• Stakes high, decisions urgent, facts uncertain or disputed
• Science thrives on a contest of ideas
– This can be problematic in public debate (e.g. climate change)
• Public officials just one of many sources of advice
• Ministers/governments prefer wins, credit, initiatives
– over problems, conflict, confusion
• Durable relationships are critical
– based on mutual respect and trust
14
Three lenses of knowledge &
evidence
Political
Judgement:
diffuse, fluid and
adversarial
Scientific
Research:
systematic approaches,
quantitative and
qualitative.
experimental and action-
oriented
Professional
Practices:
organisational
knowledge,
implementation,
practical
experience
Policy
problem
Inform and
influence policy
response
Source: Brian Head AJPA 2008, 67(1) 1:11
16
• Policy issues tend to be in the applied
research domain
• Key questions revolve around
“What should we do?”
• What policy settings or interventions will have what impact?
• Who will be affected? How? How much? When? and Where?
The nature of policy questions
17
• Supply push
• Synthesis instigated by researchers (typically by an open
call for proposals) to generate new insights / perspectives
on topics of scientific interest, producing scientific outputs
• May or may not be relevant to a policy need
• Demand pull
• Synthesis generated in response to a policy problem, either
requested by government or initiated by researchers
• Inherently applied, may not be as scientifically interesting
Why would policy/government be
interested in synthesis?
18
A perspective from the policy top
Terry Moran, Secretary of the Australian Prime Minister’s Dept,
Institute of Public Administration, 15 July 2009:
Reflecting on the challenges of public sector reform:
http://www.dpmc.gov.au/media/speech_2009_07_15.cfm
19
A perspective from the policy top
Terry Moran, Secretary of the Australian Prime Minister’s
Dept, Institute of Public Administration, 15 July 2009:
Reflecting on the challenges of public sector reform:
“ By and large, I believe the public service gives good advice on
incremental policy improvement. Where we fall down is in long-
term, transformational thinking; the big picture stuff. We are still
more reactive than proactive; more inward than outward looking.
We are allergic to risk, sometimes infected by a culture of timidity….
The APS still generates too much policy within single departments
and agencies to address challenges that span a range of
departments and agencies… We are not good at recruiting
creative thinkers. ”
http://www.dpmc.gov.au/media/speech_2009_07_15.cfm
20
Governments & policy makers might fund synthesis if:
• It consistently delivers “long-term, transformational thinking;
the big picture stuff”
• To “address challenges that span a range of departments and
agencies…”
• It enables risky or contentious topics to be explored by senior
policy makers with top scientists in a trusting ‘safe’
environment
• It demonstrably generates outstanding
science/products/leverage
• It provides scientific legitimacy for preferred policy directions
• It is obviously valued by industry & community
Implications
The knowledge-seeking behaviour
of policy makers (after Cullen et al 2000)
• Senior policy makers are time-poor, information-overloaded
people, most of whom don’t read much unless they have to;
• Only know what they need to know when they need to know it
• Have a very short-term, reactive perspective
• Rarely stay long in the same job — deep content knowledge is
rare
• Want to summarise info in less than 1 page for Minister/top brass
• Averse to anything too complicated
• Default to trusted sources, often in-house, even when they
suspect those sources may be out of date or incomplete
• May have a jaundiced opinion of science, believing it is:
– too slow and too expensive
21
22
• Clarify the nature of the „boundary‟
• between science and policy?
• between research and its mobilisation?
• across disciplines, industries, issues or jurisdictions?
Synthesis centres are
boundary
organisations
23
• Clarify the nature of the „boundary‟
• between science and policy?
• between research and its mobilisation?
• across disciplines, industries, issues or jurisdictions?
• Boundaries rarely clearcut, often blurry, fluid, porous, dynamic
Synthesis centres are
boundary
organisations
24
• Clarify the nature of the „boundary‟
• between science and policy?
• between research and its mobilisation?
• across disciplines, industries, issues or jurisdictions?
• Boundaries rarely clearcut, often blurry, fluid, porous, dynamic
• THESIS: Effective boundary organisations need to be
multilingual, multicultural, nimble, alert, far-sighted (back and
forward), with clarity of purpose and strategy
Synthesis centres are
boundary
organisations
25
• Clarify the nature of the „boundary‟
• between science and policy?
• between research and its mobilisation?
• across disciplines, industries, issues or jurisdictions?
• Boundaries rarely clearcut, often blurry, fluid, porous, dynamic
• THESIS: Effective boundary organisations need to be
multilingual, multicultural, nimble, alert, far-sighted (back and
forward), with clarity of purpose and strategy
• QUESTION: Must boundary organisations be seen as ‘honest
brokers’ in order to be effective?
− there is no such thing as neutral, value-free facilitation
Synthesis centres are
boundary
organisations
26
Infiltrating Power with Science
Tips, Tools & Tricks [2007]
• 100 Key Influencers list, constantly updated
– including rising stars and Minister’s ‘kitchen cabinet’
• Employ knowledge brokers, manage relationships actively
• Respect the ‘no surprises’ rule always
• Synthesis products - distilled, digestible information targeted
to end-user needs
• Timing is everything, and face to face is best
– Breakfasts, face to face briefings (facilitated one to one)
• Develop & apply adoptability filters
• Fund the arrows, not just the boxes
Design principles for intelligent
research investment [2009]
• Long institutional memory and outlook
Design principles for intelligent
research investment [2009]
• Long institutional memory and outlook
• Mandate and Governance
Design principles for intelligent
research investment [2009]
• Long institutional memory and outlook
• Mandate and Governance
• Capabilities in people, systems and processes
• Explicit investment in strategic, formative evaluation
Design principles for intelligent
research investment [2009]
• Long institutional memory and outlook
• Mandate and Governance
• Capabilities in people, systems and processes
• Explicit investment in strategic, formative evaluation
• Stakeholder/end user engagement
— without capture
Design principles for intelligent
research investment [2009]
• Long institutional memory and outlook
• Mandate and Governance
• Capabilities in people, systems and processes
• Explicit investment in strategic, formative evaluation
• Stakeholder/end user engagement
— without capture
• A collaborative, partnership-oriented institutional
culture
32
Are Synthesis Centres inherently vulnerable?
• managing relationships across boundaries is crucial
• demonstrating the value proposition is essential
• a durable funding base is highly desirable
Conclusion
33
Are Synthesis Centres inherently vulnerable?
• managing relationships across boundaries is crucial
• demonstrating the value proposition is essential
• a durable funding base is highly desirable
• It is more difficult to be an effective
synthesiser, integrator, broker or boundary spanner than it is
to be a brilliant specialist.
Conclusion
34
Are Synthesis Centres inherently vulnerable?
• managing relationships across boundaries is crucial
• demonstrating the value proposition is essential
• a durable funding base is highly desirable
• It is more difficult to be an effective synthesiser, integrator,
broker or boundary spanner than it is to be a brilliant
specialist.
• Measuring the value added by often subtle processes is
difficult.
• Hence the answer to the question above is probably yes.
Conclusion
35
Are Synthesis Centres inherently vulnerable?
• managing relationships across boundaries is crucial
• demonstrating the value proposition is essential
• a durable funding base is highly desirable
• It is more difficult to be an effective
synthesiser, integrator, broker or boundary spanner than it is
to be a brilliant specialist.
• Measuring the value added by often subtle processes is
difficult.
• Hence the answer to the question above is probably yes.
BUT, given the context, I think we need effective
Conclusion
http://riel.cdu.edu.au
see “The Getting of Knowledge: a guide to funding
and managing applied R&D”
and “The Australian NRM Knowledge System”

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Campbell_IJSCM_day_1

  • 1. Research Institute for the Environment & Livelihoods http://riel.cdu.edu.au The attraction of a synthesis centre to policy makers and government ANDREW CAMPBELL CESAB 9 OCTOBRE 2013
  • 2. 2 • Introduction • Science-policy interface • Why would policy/government be interested in synthesis? • Lessons for synthesis centres? Outline
  • 3. Personal declarations • Farming background south-western Victoria, Australia – Family farming in the district since 1860s, own farm managed 1987— – 450ha: 30% farm forestry, 10% environmental reserves, 60% leased to a neighbour for lamb production
  • 4. Personal declarations • Farming background south-western Victoria, Australia – Family farming in the district since 1860s, own farm managed 1987— – 450ha: 30% farm forestry, 10% environmental reserves, 60% leased to a neighbour for lamb production • Forestry & rural sociology: Creswick, Melbourne & Wageningen • Forester Victorian government 1984-88
  • 5. Personal declarations • Farming background south-western Victoria, Australia – Family farming in the district since 1860s, own farm managed 1987— – 450ha: 30% farm forestry, 10% environmental reserves, 60% leased to a neighbour for lamb production • Forestry & rural sociology: Creswick, Melbourne & Wageningen • Forester Victorian government 1984-88 • National Landcare Facilitator 1989-92 • 5 years as a Senior Executive in Australian Government • 7 years as CEO of a national research funder
  • 6. Personal declarations • Farming background south-western Victoria, Australia – Family farming in the district since 1860s, own farm managed 1987— – 450ha: 30% farm forestry, 10% environmental reserves, 60% leased to a neighbour for lamb production • Forestry & rural sociology: Creswick, Melbourne & Wageningen • Forester Victorian government 1984-88 • National Landcare Facilitator 1989-92 • 5 years as a Senior Executive in Australian Government • 7 years as CEO of a national research funder • 4 years as an independent consultant (including review of NCEAS & NEON for the Australian science ministry) • 4 years as Chair of the Board of TERN • 3 years as an academic, Charles Darwin University in Darwin…
  • 7. Profound technical/policy challenges 1. To decouple economic growth from carbon emissions
  • 8. Profound technical/policy challenges 1. To decouple economic growth from carbon emissions 2. To adapt to an increasingly difficult climate
  • 9. Profound technical/policy challenges 1. To decouple economic growth from carbon emissions 2. To adapt to an increasingly difficult climate 3. To increase water productivity — decoupling the 1 litre per calorie relationship
  • 10. Profound technical/policy challenges 1. To decouple economic growth from carbon emissions 2. To adapt to an increasingly difficult climate 3. To increase water productivity — decoupling the 1 litre per calorie relationship 4. To increase energy productivity – more food energy out per unit of energy in – while shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy
  • 11. Profound technical/policy challenges 1. To decouple economic growth from carbon emissions 2. To adapt to an increasingly difficult climate 3. To increase water productivity — decoupling the 1 litre per calorie relationship 4. To increase energy productivity – more food energy out per unit of energy in – while shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy 5. To develop more sustainable food systems – In competition for land and water with the resources sector – while conserving biodiversity and – improving landscape amenity, soil health, animal welfare & human health
  • 12. Profound technical/policy challenges 1. To decouple economic growth from carbon emissions 2. To adapt to an increasingly difficult climate 3. To increase water productivity — decoupling the 1 litre per calorie relationship 4. To increase energy productivity – more food energy out per unit of energy in – while shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy 5. To develop more sustainable food systems – In competition for land and water with the resources sector – while conserving biodiversity and – improving landscape amenity, soil health, animal welfare & human health 6. TO DO ALL OF THE ABOVE SIMULTANEOUSLY! —improving sustainability and resilience
  • 13. The Science-Policy Interface • Contested, crowded, contextual • Stakes high, decisions urgent, facts uncertain or disputed • Science thrives on a contest of ideas – This can be problematic in public debate (e.g. climate change) • Public officials just one of many sources of advice • Ministers/governments prefer wins, credit, initiatives – over problems, conflict, confusion 13
  • 14. The Science-Policy Interface • Contested, crowded, contextual • Stakes high, decisions urgent, facts uncertain or disputed • Science thrives on a contest of ideas – This can be problematic in public debate (e.g. climate change) • Public officials just one of many sources of advice • Ministers/governments prefer wins, credit, initiatives – over problems, conflict, confusion • Durable relationships are critical – based on mutual respect and trust 14
  • 15. Three lenses of knowledge & evidence Political Judgement: diffuse, fluid and adversarial Scientific Research: systematic approaches, quantitative and qualitative. experimental and action- oriented Professional Practices: organisational knowledge, implementation, practical experience Policy problem Inform and influence policy response Source: Brian Head AJPA 2008, 67(1) 1:11
  • 16. 16 • Policy issues tend to be in the applied research domain • Key questions revolve around “What should we do?” • What policy settings or interventions will have what impact? • Who will be affected? How? How much? When? and Where? The nature of policy questions
  • 17. 17 • Supply push • Synthesis instigated by researchers (typically by an open call for proposals) to generate new insights / perspectives on topics of scientific interest, producing scientific outputs • May or may not be relevant to a policy need • Demand pull • Synthesis generated in response to a policy problem, either requested by government or initiated by researchers • Inherently applied, may not be as scientifically interesting Why would policy/government be interested in synthesis?
  • 18. 18 A perspective from the policy top Terry Moran, Secretary of the Australian Prime Minister’s Dept, Institute of Public Administration, 15 July 2009: Reflecting on the challenges of public sector reform: http://www.dpmc.gov.au/media/speech_2009_07_15.cfm
  • 19. 19 A perspective from the policy top Terry Moran, Secretary of the Australian Prime Minister’s Dept, Institute of Public Administration, 15 July 2009: Reflecting on the challenges of public sector reform: “ By and large, I believe the public service gives good advice on incremental policy improvement. Where we fall down is in long- term, transformational thinking; the big picture stuff. We are still more reactive than proactive; more inward than outward looking. We are allergic to risk, sometimes infected by a culture of timidity…. The APS still generates too much policy within single departments and agencies to address challenges that span a range of departments and agencies… We are not good at recruiting creative thinkers. ” http://www.dpmc.gov.au/media/speech_2009_07_15.cfm
  • 20. 20 Governments & policy makers might fund synthesis if: • It consistently delivers “long-term, transformational thinking; the big picture stuff” • To “address challenges that span a range of departments and agencies…” • It enables risky or contentious topics to be explored by senior policy makers with top scientists in a trusting ‘safe’ environment • It demonstrably generates outstanding science/products/leverage • It provides scientific legitimacy for preferred policy directions • It is obviously valued by industry & community Implications
  • 21. The knowledge-seeking behaviour of policy makers (after Cullen et al 2000) • Senior policy makers are time-poor, information-overloaded people, most of whom don’t read much unless they have to; • Only know what they need to know when they need to know it • Have a very short-term, reactive perspective • Rarely stay long in the same job — deep content knowledge is rare • Want to summarise info in less than 1 page for Minister/top brass • Averse to anything too complicated • Default to trusted sources, often in-house, even when they suspect those sources may be out of date or incomplete • May have a jaundiced opinion of science, believing it is: – too slow and too expensive 21
  • 22. 22 • Clarify the nature of the „boundary‟ • between science and policy? • between research and its mobilisation? • across disciplines, industries, issues or jurisdictions? Synthesis centres are boundary organisations
  • 23. 23 • Clarify the nature of the „boundary‟ • between science and policy? • between research and its mobilisation? • across disciplines, industries, issues or jurisdictions? • Boundaries rarely clearcut, often blurry, fluid, porous, dynamic Synthesis centres are boundary organisations
  • 24. 24 • Clarify the nature of the „boundary‟ • between science and policy? • between research and its mobilisation? • across disciplines, industries, issues or jurisdictions? • Boundaries rarely clearcut, often blurry, fluid, porous, dynamic • THESIS: Effective boundary organisations need to be multilingual, multicultural, nimble, alert, far-sighted (back and forward), with clarity of purpose and strategy Synthesis centres are boundary organisations
  • 25. 25 • Clarify the nature of the „boundary‟ • between science and policy? • between research and its mobilisation? • across disciplines, industries, issues or jurisdictions? • Boundaries rarely clearcut, often blurry, fluid, porous, dynamic • THESIS: Effective boundary organisations need to be multilingual, multicultural, nimble, alert, far-sighted (back and forward), with clarity of purpose and strategy • QUESTION: Must boundary organisations be seen as ‘honest brokers’ in order to be effective? − there is no such thing as neutral, value-free facilitation Synthesis centres are boundary organisations
  • 26. 26 Infiltrating Power with Science Tips, Tools & Tricks [2007] • 100 Key Influencers list, constantly updated – including rising stars and Minister’s ‘kitchen cabinet’ • Employ knowledge brokers, manage relationships actively • Respect the ‘no surprises’ rule always • Synthesis products - distilled, digestible information targeted to end-user needs • Timing is everything, and face to face is best – Breakfasts, face to face briefings (facilitated one to one) • Develop & apply adoptability filters • Fund the arrows, not just the boxes
  • 27. Design principles for intelligent research investment [2009] • Long institutional memory and outlook
  • 28. Design principles for intelligent research investment [2009] • Long institutional memory and outlook • Mandate and Governance
  • 29. Design principles for intelligent research investment [2009] • Long institutional memory and outlook • Mandate and Governance • Capabilities in people, systems and processes • Explicit investment in strategic, formative evaluation
  • 30. Design principles for intelligent research investment [2009] • Long institutional memory and outlook • Mandate and Governance • Capabilities in people, systems and processes • Explicit investment in strategic, formative evaluation • Stakeholder/end user engagement — without capture
  • 31. Design principles for intelligent research investment [2009] • Long institutional memory and outlook • Mandate and Governance • Capabilities in people, systems and processes • Explicit investment in strategic, formative evaluation • Stakeholder/end user engagement — without capture • A collaborative, partnership-oriented institutional culture
  • 32. 32 Are Synthesis Centres inherently vulnerable? • managing relationships across boundaries is crucial • demonstrating the value proposition is essential • a durable funding base is highly desirable Conclusion
  • 33. 33 Are Synthesis Centres inherently vulnerable? • managing relationships across boundaries is crucial • demonstrating the value proposition is essential • a durable funding base is highly desirable • It is more difficult to be an effective synthesiser, integrator, broker or boundary spanner than it is to be a brilliant specialist. Conclusion
  • 34. 34 Are Synthesis Centres inherently vulnerable? • managing relationships across boundaries is crucial • demonstrating the value proposition is essential • a durable funding base is highly desirable • It is more difficult to be an effective synthesiser, integrator, broker or boundary spanner than it is to be a brilliant specialist. • Measuring the value added by often subtle processes is difficult. • Hence the answer to the question above is probably yes. Conclusion
  • 35. 35 Are Synthesis Centres inherently vulnerable? • managing relationships across boundaries is crucial • demonstrating the value proposition is essential • a durable funding base is highly desirable • It is more difficult to be an effective synthesiser, integrator, broker or boundary spanner than it is to be a brilliant specialist. • Measuring the value added by often subtle processes is difficult. • Hence the answer to the question above is probably yes. BUT, given the context, I think we need effective Conclusion
  • 36. http://riel.cdu.edu.au see “The Getting of Knowledge: a guide to funding and managing applied R&D” and “The Australian NRM Knowledge System”

Editor's Notes

  1. Over coming decades, rural landscapes and natural resources will become increasingly contested.  The era of abundant, cheap fossil fuel energy is coming to a close, due to oil depletion and the pricing of carbon.  Inherent climate variability, exacerbated by underlying climate change, will place increasing pressure on water resources and will increase the frequency and intensity of wildfire in temperate regions.  Rising energy prices will drive up the cost of transport and nutrients, particularly agrichemicals and fertilisers.  Population growth and changing demographic and consumption patterns will see increasing demand for food.  However the traditional means of increasing food production through expanding and intensifying the footprint of agriculture will be increasingly squeezed by land, water, energy, nutrient and carbon constraints.  Biodiversity, landscape amenity and cultural heritage may be caught in the crossfire. Yet in rich countries like Australia, public and consumer concerns about these issues and issues such as animal welfare, water quality, and public health and safety seem unlikely to diminish. All of these issues are major research and policy challenges. Yet they are intertwined and interdependent. Siloed approaches in and between science and policy will not work. So mechanisms that can work across silos are increasingly important. Bridging or boundary organisations are seen to be one important mechanism to work across the science-policy divide. But how durable are such organisations?