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The influence of research on Public Policy (2009)

October 20, 2016
Knowledge to policy cover image

IDRC in the Public Policy Process: A Strategic Evaluation of the Influence of Research on Public Policy

This study aims to clarify and document what the Centre means by "policy influence"; to examine more systematically the extent to which and the ways in which the research it supports influences policy; and to examine the factors which affect the extent of policy influence resulting from its projects. The study will serve two main purposes:

  1. To provide learning at the program level to enhance the design of projects and programs to increase policy influence where that is a key objective;
  2. To provide an opportunity for corporate level learning by offering feedback on performance and input on the design of the next corporate program framework.

There are two central elements to the methodology:

  1. Stories: In order to effectively capture both the opportunities and challenges of the use of research in the policy making process, the development of rich case examples for analysis was employed in this study. Since context is so crucial when observing (potential) instances of policy influence, the case studies provide stories and narratives that are attentive to local conditions and historical circumstances. A key part of the methodological framework for the study was the use of a common methodology and questions for the case studies that allow depth and richness in each qualitative case, but also lends itself to cross-case analysis.
  2. Engagement in analysis: A second important element is the engagement of staff and partners in the analysis. To do that, the Unit engaged Centre staff in a series of workshops to carry out preliminary analysis of the findings. The workshops were focused on several key cases from a region and engaged staff from that region, together with IDRC partners and the consultants who conducted the research. Continued engagement by staff and partners will be sought throughout the study.

Design Documents

Background Studies

Several background studies were conducted and have assisted in the study design and will form part of the data for analysis of the findings in the study. These studies include a literature review, the development of a conceptual framework, reviews of Centre documents (evaluations, Project Completion Reports, project & program objectives), and a look back at policy influence in Centre activities over the past thirty years (study of intent).

Case Studies

There are 22 case studies included in this evaluation which cover more than 60 projects in over 20 countries. The cases were identified through a consultative process with Centre staff. Criteria for selection included programming area, region, uniqueness, comparability, type of influence, type of organization doing the research, type of organization being influenced, duration of IDRC involvement, and intentional vs. unintentional influence. In all cases, the projects selected were ones where there was a claim of influence that could be clearly identified and articulated by the staff member(s) proposing the case.

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