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Unsolicited advice: lessons for impacting public policy

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Unsolicited advice: lessons for impacting public policy

  1. 1. Troy D. Mix, AICP University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign troymix1@illinois.edu UNSOLICITED ADVICE: LESSONS FOR IMPACTING PUBLIC POLICY Prepared for the NEURUS-ICURD Workshop & Seminar April 10, 2013
  2. 2. Peril and promise of politics 2 “To turn concern into action requires politics.” Lemann, Nicholas. (2013, April 15). When the Earth moved. The New Yorker, 73-76.  Politics as the determinant of who gets what, when, and how. Lasswell, Harold Dwight. (1950). Politics: Who gets what, when, how. New York: P. Smith.
  3. 3. Goals and agenda 3  Goals  Offer a framework for researchers to evaluate and revise approaches to impacting public policy  Stimulate discussion about the applicability of this framework to ongoing research  Agenda  Relevant professional background and research activity  Considering your purpose  Considering your audience  Considering points of policy leverage  Executing a strategy for policy influence
  4. 4. Policy background 4  5 years as a planner and policy researcher at a university public service organization  Applied research projects focused on…  Local and regional planning and economic development  Worked with…  State and federal agencies, local governments, nonprofits, and research institutes
  5. 5. Research on institutions and regional policymaking 5 MeasuresConceptsHypothesesResearch questions 1. Howdo the organization and managementof a university's economic development activitiesaffectthe level andcharacter of resourcesthat an institution commitsto regional developmentpolicy networks? 2. What factors enable universities to influencethe adoptionand implementationof regional policy supportingresearch park development? Increased diversity and cohesivenessof university's economic development activitiesresultsin more resilient university relationshipswith regional A university'sability to influencethe publicdecision- makingprocess dependsonits persistentcentrality inpolicynetworks, the level and diversityof resourcesit deploys to act in these networks,andthe resourcesof other network Organizational Diversity Integration/ cohesiveness Centrality Relative level and diversityof resources Horizontal differentiation (whatecon.dev.activities/employee numberandtype,prof.vs.acad) Vertical differentation (levels of hierarchybetweenCEOandfirstline of above tasks;levelswithin Formalization(economic developmentplans,standing Centralization(topmanagementrole infinal decisions) Configuration(Degree of separation of functional/producthierarchy) Measure of centralitywithin regional decision-makingnetworks Assessmentoftactics usedby actors/participants withinregional decision-makingnetworks
  6. 6. Communicating research purpose What problem are you trying to address? Lack of specificity prompted responses like…  “I wasn’t sure what you were going for.”  “What next?”  “Thanks for wasting my time.” 6 Broadband touted as potential economic engine for Sussex County
  7. 7. Three steps to clarifying your purpose 7  Topic: I am studying __________________  Question: because I want to find out what/why/how/where ________________,  Significance (research/practical): in order to help my reader understand _____________. I am studying household incomes and demographic conditions in Georgetown, Delaware because I want to find out the regional potential for retail sales, in order to help the local Chamber of Commerce understand business expansion opportunities. Booth, Wayne C., Colomb, Gregory G., & Williams, Joseph M. (2008). The craft of research (3rd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  8. 8. Defining your research audience 8  Who is the “client”?  Who asked for your work?  Who needs to be affected by your work?  Clients’ goals can be conflicting  Addressing one set of goals can slight others  Addressing all sets of goals can muddle impacts
  9. 9. Clarifying your research client 9 “City governments are not simple hierarchical systems run on authoritarian lines. They are complex, open systems serving diverse and partially contradictory goals, responding to conflicting constituencies, whose authority is diffused, whose inertia is enormous, and whose ability to plan and direct change is excruciatingly small. (p. 130)”  Policy is made in subsystems or networks  Interests and capabilities for action may vary substantially across network Szanton, Peter L. (1981). Not well advised. New York: Russell Sage Foundation: Ford Foundation.
  10. 10. Points of policy leverage 10  What messages will influence particular audiences?  From preserving quality of life to preserving fiscal resources Delaware Strategies for State Policies and Spending
  11. 11. Framing and communicating findings for policy impact 11  What is your study an instance of?  Situate your study within a larger discussion  What resources can you contribute to this discussion?  Descriptive or explanatory information? For whom? For what purpose? Why will they listen to you?  What resources will others contribute to this discussion?  How will you answer contrary findings and claims?
  12. 12. From ivory tower to implementation 12  Researchers tend to respond directly to a research market  To impact policy requires reaching consumers outside of this research market  Add a nonmarket perspective to your research repertoire  Clarify your purpose  Identify your audience(s)  Examine the critical questions and communicate them in an influential manner

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