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Making Knowledge Count Maximising the value of Research for Development. John Young: ODI, London Overseas Development Institute. Development Think Tank 60 researchers Research / Advice / Public Debate Rural / Humanitarian / Poverty & Aid / Economics / Policy Processes

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making knowledge count maximising the value of research for development

Making Knowledge Count Maximising the value of Research for Development

John Young: ODI, London

overseas development institute
Overseas Development Institute
  • Development Think Tank
  • 60 researchers
  • Research / Advice / Public Debate
  • Rural / Humanitarian / Poverty & Aid / Economics / Policy Processes
  • DFID, Parliament, WB, EC
  • Civil Society

For more information see:

rapid group
  • Promoting evidence-based development policy & practice
  • Through
    • Research
    • Advice
    • Public Affairs
    • Capacity-building
  • Working with:
    • researchers
    • policymakers
    • parliamentarians
    • southern think tanks

for further information see: /

  • Research: “any systematic effort to increase the stock of knowledge”
  • Policy:a “purposive course of action followed by an actor or set of actors”
  • Evidence: “the available information supporting or otherwise a belief or proposition”
  • Evidence-based Policy: “public policy informed by rigorously established evidence”.
policy processes

Commission research

Analyse the results

Choose the best option

Establish the policy

Implement the policy


Policy Processes

Identify the problem

policy processes6



Policy Formulation






Civil Society


Monitoring and Evaluation

Policy Implementation

Private Sector

Policy Processes
chronic poverty in uganda
Chronic Poverty in Uganda

Kate Bird et al, Fracture Points in Social Policies for Chronic Poverty Reduction, ODI WP242, 2004 (

in reality
…in reality…
  • “The whole life of policy is a chaos of purposes and accidents. It is not at all a matter of the rational implementation of the so-called decisions through selected strategies1”
  • “Most policy research on African agriculture is irrelevant to agricultural and overall economic policy in Africa2”
  • “Research is more often regarded as the opposite of action rather than a response to ignorance”3

1 Clay & Schaffer (1984), Room for Manoeuvre; An Exploration of Public Policy in

Agricultural and Rural Development, Heineman Educational Books, London

2 Omamo (2003), Policy Research on African Agriculture: Trends, Gaps, and Challenges,

International Service for National Agricultural Research (ISNAR) Research Report No 21

3Surr (2003), DFID Research Review

factors influencing policy making

Experience & Expertise

Pragmatics & Contingencies


Lobbyists & Pressure Groups



Values and Policy Context

Habits & Tradition

Factors influencing policy making

Source: Phil Davies Impact to Insight Meeting, ODI, 2005

different notions of evidence

Policy Makers’ Evidence

Researchers’ Evidence

  • ‘Scientific’ (Context free)
  • Proven empirically
  • Theoretically driven
  • As long as it takes
  • Caveats and qualifications
  • Colloquial (Contextual)
  • Anything that seems reasonable
  • Policy relevant
  • Timely
  • Clear Message
Different Notions of Evidence

Source: Phil Davies Impact to Insight Meeting, ODI, 2005

existing theory
Linear model

Percolation model, Weiss

Tipping point model, Gladwell

‘Context, evidence, links’ framework, ODI

Policy narratives, Roe

Systems model (NSI)

External forces, Lindquist

‘Room for manoeuvre’, Clay & Schaffer

‘Street level bureaucrats’, Lipsky

Policy as social experiments, Rondinelli

Policy Streams & Windows, Kingdon

Disjointed incrementalism, Lindquist

The ‘tipping point’, Gladwell

Crisis model, Kuhn

‘Framework of possible thought’, Chomsky

Variables for Credibility, Beach

The source is as important as content, Gladwell

Linear model of communication, Shannon

Interactive model,

Simple and surprising stories, Communication Theory

Provide solutions, Marketing I

Find the right packaging, Marketing II

Elicit a response, Kottler

Translation of technology, Volkow

Epistemic communities

Policy communities

Advocacy coalitions etc, Pross

Negotiation through networks, Sebattier

Shadow networks, Klickert

Chains of accountability, Fine

Communication for social change, Rockefeller

Wheels and webs, Chapman & Fisher


Existing theory
existing theory a short list
Existing theory – a short list
  • Policy narratives, Roe
  • Systems of Innovation Model, (NSI)
  • ‘Room for manoeuvre’, Clay & Schaffer
  • ‘Street level bureaucrats’, Lipsky
  • Policy as social experiments, Rondene
  • Policy streams and policy windows, Kingdon
  • Disjointed Incrementalism, Lindblom
  • Social Epidemics, Gladwell
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 links between policy

and research communities – networks, relationships, power, competing discourses, trust, knowledge etc.

The evidence – credibility, the degree it challenges received wisdom, research approaches and methodology, simplicity of the message, how it is packaged etc

An Analytical Framework
case studies
Case Studies
  • Detailed:
    • Sustainable Livelihoods
    • Poverty Reductions Strategy Processes
    • Ethical Principles in Humanitarian Aid
    • Animal Health Care in Kenya
    • Dairy Policy in Kenya
    • Plant Genetic Resources
  • Summary
    • GDN x 50
    • CSPP x 20
    • Good news case studies x 5
    • Mental health in the UK
animal healthcare in kenya

International Research

The Hubl Study

Animal Healthcare in Kenya





Professionalisationof Public Services.

Structural Adjustment


ITDG Paravet networkand change of DVS.

KVB letter(January 1998).

Multistakeholder WSs →new policies.

Professionalisation of Public Services.

Structural Adjustment → collapse of services.

Paravet projects emerge.

ITDG projects.


ITDG Paravet network.

Rapid spread in North.

KVB letter (January 1998).

Multistakeholder WSs → new policies.

Still not approved / passed!

ITDG projects – collaborative research.

Dr Kajume

a practical framework

External Influences

Campaigning, Lobbying

Policy analysis, & research

Scientific information exchange & validation

A Practical Framework

political context

Politics and Policymaking


Advocacy, Networking

Research, learning & thinking



what you need to know
What you need to know

The external environment:

  • Who are the key actors?
  • What is their agenda?
  • How do they influence the political context?

The evidence:

  • Is it there?
  • Is it relevant?
  • Is it practically useful?
  • Are the concepts new?
  • Does it need re-packaging?


  • Who are the key actors?
  • Are there existing networks?
  • How best to transfer the information?
  • The media?
  • Campaigns?

The political context:

  • Is there political interest in change?
  • Is there room for manoeuvre?
  • How do they perceive the problem?
what you need to do
What you need to do
  • Work with them – seek commissions
  • Strategic opportunism – prepare for known events + resources for others
  • Get to know the policymakers.
  • Identify friends and foes.
  • Prepare for policy opportunities.
  • Look out for policy windows.
  • Who are the policymakers?
  • Is there demand for ideas?
  • What is the policy process?
  • Build a reputation
  • Action-research
  • Pilot projects to generate legitimacy
  • Good communication
  • Establish credibility
  • Provide practical solutions
  • Establish legitimacy.
  • Present clear options
  • Use familiar narratives.
  • What is the current theory?
  • What are the narratives?
  • How divergent is it?
  • Build partnerships.
  • Identify key networkers, mavens and salesmen.
  • Use informal contacts
  • Get to know the others
  • Work through existing networks.
  • Build coalitions.
  • Build new policy networks.
  • Who are the stakeholders?
  • What networks exist?
  • Who are the connectors, mavens and salesmen?
policy entrepreneurs
Policy entrepreneurs





practical tools for ebp
Practical Tools for EBP

Overarching Tools

- The RAPID Framework

- Using the Framework

- The Entrepreneurship Questionnaire

Context Assessment Tools

- Stakeholder Analysis

- Forcefield Analysis

- Writeshops

- Policy Mapping

- Political Context Mapping

Communication Tools

- Communications Strategy

- SWOT analysis

- Message Design

- Making use of the media

Research Tools

- Case Studies

- Episode Studies

- Surveys

- Bibliometric Analysis

- Focus Group Discussion

Policy Influence Tools

- Influence Mapping & Power Mapping

- Lobbying and Advocacy

- Campaigning: A Simple Guide

- Competency self-assessment

evaluating policy impact
Evaluating Policy Impact
  • Classical case studies…
    • Can capture depth and diversity
    • Overestimate role of research
  • Episode Studies…
    • ODI
    • Focus on policy change
    • Historical
    • Underestimate role of research
other approaches
Other Approaches
  • Citations
  • Tracking ideas
  • Social Network Analysis
  • Most Significant Change
  • “Impact Box”
  • Peer review
  • Expert review
outcome mapping

OUTCOME MAPPING:Building Learning and Reflection into Development ProgramsSarah Earl, Fred Carden, and Terry Smutylo

Outcome Mapping
rapid outcome assessment
RAPID Outcome Assessment
  • An approach which combines
    • Literature Review
    • Case Study
    • Episode Study
    • Retrospective Outcome Mapping
  • To identify critical factors
  • Participatory
  • Involves all stakeholders
  • With ILRI / CGIAR
the pppppc project
The PPPPPC Project
  • ODI/ILRI/ILRI Partners.
  • Purpose:
    • To identify and institutionalise approaches to research that more directly lead to pro-poor policy outcomes.
    • To develop better methods for evaluating the impact of research (ROA)
  • Case Studies:
    • Policy focused research (SDP)
    • Research “around” a policy change (KUA)
    • Research with no policy impact (Ethiopia)
  • Policy Engagement