Policymakers engaging with an evidence base – audio recording

May 26, 2009

In this audio recording, Megan Lloyd Laney, Communications adviser in the Central Research Department, shares her perspectives on the problem of evidence-based policy-making.

Being asked to speak about policy making processes on behalf on DFID, she says, felt like a “scary deal”.

Research is not consensual but we need to look at different knowledge and narratives.  Within DFID itself, there is belief in engaging with an evidence base to inform policy, but in practice they are unable to.

Megan outlines some of the disablers and enablers to engaging with an evidence base:

•    Policymaking is “messy and grubby” – there are lots of factors involved – negotiation, the art of politics, institutional capacity to capture from all the different evidence.

•    People are too busy responding to national imperatives and regional programmes of support to engage with an evidence base.

•    DFID frequently changes policy narratives (e.g. sustainable livelihoods, natural resource development, and climate change). These changing labels disable the outside world from understanding and engaging.

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“Policy process is a narrative” – audio recording

September 16, 2008

In this audio recording, Dr Temba Masilela from HSRC shares his perspectives on the problem of ‘evidence-based policy-making’ speaking about policy processes in South Africa. Having worked as a policy advisor and journalist and prior to this been an exile in Kenya, Temba speaks about how we should approach policy not just in terms of research, but as a narrative; it needs to be contextualised.

Dr Temba Masilela speaks on the opening panel at the Power of In-Between conference

Dr Temba Masilela speaks on the opening panel at the Power of In-Between conference

Taking an example of xenophobic attacks in South Africa, he asks what are the issues and imperatives underlying what happened – migration, crime, poverty, competition for resources? People see different narratives and framings and we need to analyse policy based on this.

Temba outlines a definition of the public policy process: “it’s a narrative about the authoritative allocation of values and resources”. It’s a narrative because it’s a story with many questions and answers:

  • It has particular context, actors, relationships, plot and perspectives
  • It is a story about why, who benefits, how should it be done, who bears the consequences and costs?
  • It has an ending, happy or sad
  • It is interactive, iterative and about engagement
  • It has a history to it, a present and a future
  • It requires some suspension of disbelief as well as trust that it is beneficial and will result in desired outcome

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How do research brokers and intermediaries contribute to evidence based policy making? Revisiting the hypotheses

July 22, 2008
Closing plenary session - Jane Ireri (AMREF), James Nguo (ALIN), Ananya Raihan (DNet)

Closing plenary session - Jane Ireri (AMREF), James Nguo (ALIN), Ananya Raihan (DNet)

I always enjoy the closing session of a conference. As I’m reflecting on what I’ll take away it’s good to find out if it’s the same – or the complete opposite – of the other people in the room. Here are some of the things that they were thinking.

  • being an information repository is not enough – intermediaries are part of the knowledge flow
  • intermediaries can’t be fully neutral – but this isn’t the end of the world
  • intermediaries can (should?) have influence at all levels – how are we connecting at the grassroots?
  • more work is needed on monitoring and evaluation – we’re putting all this work in but how do we judge our impact?
  • policy makers make decisions on the fly with a lot of information in their heads – how can we make sure that research is one of these things?
  • people were encouraged by the fact that funders had taken the time to come to the conference – it shows that there is a real interest in what we’re doing?
  • this was an invaluable networking opportunity

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How research brokers and intermediaries contribute to evidence based pro-poor policy making: framing the debate

July 18, 2008
Framing the debate - Geoff Barnard (IDS)

Framing the debate - Geoff Barnard (IDS)

This presentation shared ideas about the ways in which research brokers and intermediaries contribute to other structures of communication, and presented hypotheses to consider over the conference.

Just an ‘in betweener’?
According to Geoff Barnard, Head of IDS’ Information Team the research broker and intermediary sector can be compared to the pond that he dug in his garden last year. At first he had an empty pond full of clean water. A couple of days later things life had begun to invade. After ten days it looked like a green soup but finally after two weeks it had started to become a proper ecosystem.

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Perspectives on the “problem” of evidence-based policymaking

July 18, 2008
Temba Masiela and Anil Kanjee

Temba Masiela and Anil Kanjee

A panel discussion explored the problems around information and knowledge flows, processes and structures that inhibit use of research in policy and practice.The discussion covered a range of perspectives on evidence-based policymaking. Out of this, I found three that resonated throughout the presentations. These were: public policy processes as a narrative; policy and politics; and what public policy processes are [not]:

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