Policy Analysis 3 4 : — A brief literature review suggests that in sub-Saharan Africa, there has been a disconnect between the policy-making process and the considerable base of knowledge that policy researchers are producing on the continent. That is, full use is not being made of research findings generated in Africa when decision-makers formulate policies that affect the lives of millions of people on the continent.
The contemporary reality is that policy-making process is iterative. It involves interaction amongst three broad streams of activities, namely: problem definition; solution proposals; and choice of the line of action through political consensus. However, that interaction is dominated to a large extent by donors, led by international financial institutions, and even African governments use only limited input from African-generated research.
This chapter identifies challenges and opportunities that this situation presents. It concludes that policy research organizations should seek to insert their ideas into the streams of activities in the contemporary policy-making process, which involves several players in the executive and legislative arms of government, the private sector, labour unions and civil society organizations.
International organizations involved in the supply of policy research should also change tactics. Instead of deploying their leverage to force African policy-makers to adopt their externally-generated ideas, they should collaborate with research organizations in African countries.
Il ne sert qu’à souligner la positivité active et agissante des Occidentaux.
African governments that adopt externally-imposed policies often do so out of fear of repercussions and not because they are seriously committed to them, which inevitably leads to disappointing outcomes. This can be avoided if all those involved in the policy process work together, so that policy research suppliers within Africa can enhance their influence on policy-making within Africa. In the first decade of political independence in Africa, the supply side of the market for policy research was the exclusive preserve of international financial institutions IFI such as the World Bank WB and International Monetary Fund IMF , United Nations UN agencies and the donor community at large, most of which operated through expatriate consultants.
But by the beginning of the new millennium, governments of several sub-Saharan African countries had at least one policy research organization. Certainly, each central bank has a research department of some sort. In several countries, special interest groups such as labour unions, manufacturers' associations, chambers of commerce and bankers have internal research departments or have set up their own external research organizations. There has also been a mushrooming of consultancy outfits and non-governmental organizations NGOs that are owned and operated mainly by retired scholars.
This is in addition to a relatively few civil society organizations with research departments or research outfits as subsidiaries. So the situation—and supply side of policy research focussing on Africa—is more competitive now than ever before. The demand side of policy research has also become more competitive as Africa is freed from autocratic leaders by the democratization on the continent. The termination of military rule and the collapse of authoritarian civilian regimes in an increasing number of African countries have meant the demand for policy research is no longer restricted to the executive arm of government.
In many African nations, the legislatures are now fully functioning. Political parties, civil society organizations, business associations, labour unions and other special interest groups are gaining considerable influence in the policy-making process. Despite these reforms, there is general agreement that knowledge generated through policy research still rarely influences policies directly. Simply put, the considerable capacity of policy researchers on the continent is being under-utilized.
Before this can be changed, there is a need to examine how the contemporary policy-making process works, the challenges it poses and the opportunities it offers, and then determine the actual demand for research input in policy-making. This involves a look at the models of policy-making, the nature of today's policy research organizations in Africa and their influence on the decision-making process. This analysis leads to recommendations likely to enhance the utilization of policy research in Africa on African public policy-making.
The body of literature on policy-making models is already quite vast and still growing. Earlier reviews of the literature on models of the policy-making process include Weiss , Sutton , and Garret and Islam While there have been a few studies focusing on the relevance of social science research in policy-making within Africa Ajakaiye and Roberts ; Sanda , there is a dearth of work on the policy-making process with specific reference to sub-Saharan Africa.
Therefore, the work of Porter with Hicks is highly pertinent in shaping the following discussion. There are several classifications of models for the policy-making process, but the following classification is considered pertinent for the present purposes:.
This model has been variously referred to as rational, comprehensive or linear Porter with Hicks ; Grindle and Thomas A variant of this model has also been called "incrementalist" or the "muddling-through" model. According to Ajakaiye , the basic premise of the model is that policies, like drugs, have three types of effects:. Therefore, the primary goal of the policy formulation is to arrive at the most efficient policy or battery thereof that will maximize the first two effects and minimize the last one. Thus, in the model, decisions are made sequentially in the following stages:.
It should be mentioned that it is the last stage of this model that qualifies it as a policy-making "process" rather than an activity, for even the most effective policy that is efficiently implemented will inevitably have certain undesired effects. As these are identified during the final evaluation or impact-assessment stage, they invariably constitute at least part of the problem, issue or phenomenon, taking the process back to the first stage.
Over the years, donors have offered substantial support to efforts to strengthen policy analysis in developing countries, using the linear model of analysis. The expectation has always been that good policy analysis will translate into good decision-making and subsequently into good policies. It has also been suggested by Porter with Hicks that a roughly linear model of the policy-making process underlies many analyses of the reforms proposed to the developing countries by international financial institutions. With their financial leverage and exploitation of the precarious debt situation of African countries, a proposed reform from the powerful IFIs inevitably finds its way onto the agenda for government action in African countries.
Such "proposed" policies or institutional arrangements tend to be adopted and implemented— not always successfully Grindle and Thomas ; Grindle and Thomas Under the "dollar diktat", elaborated by Ajakaiye and Roberts , the influence of indigenous society-centered forces within the country—interest groups, political parties and voters—are either ignored by technocrats, bureaucrats and other non-state stake-holders who are likely to gain from these IFI-proposed policies.
Or worse, African civil societies and their views are suppressed by state-centered forces of the security apparatus.
This is a possible explanation for the various protests and strike actions that so often accompany the implementation of IFI policies in Africa. Given the existence of quality policy research institutions on the continent, it might be assumed that there is a demand from policy-makers for the research findings they produce, indeed that they would deem it essential to consult closely with these research institutions.
Certainly, a prerequisite of this is to increase the supply capacity of policy research within Africa. But experience in SSA and evidence from elsewhere suggests that it is by no means inevitable that a good supply of policy research will ensure policy-makers utilize it. Indeed, several writers have observed that policy-makers seldom used knowledge gained through research in formulating policies because the reality is a lot more complex than this linear model assumes Phillips and Seck ; Neilson ; Caplan ; Weiss The policy-making process can be conceived as a market for ideas Phillips and Seck A policy research organization is, therefore, in the business of producing and contributing high-quality policy relevant information to a pool of knowledge that policy-makers can access when they need it, and then use as—or if—they see fit Garrett and Islam As ideal as it may seem and inevitable as it appears, there is really nothing compelling the effective utilization of policy research in the policy-making process in Africa and, indeed, anywhere in the world, especially when countries are operating under the influence of the IFIs.
It is reasonable to assume that the undesirable outcomes of many policies in SSA can be attributed to the excessive attention paid by the IFIs to the first three stages of the linear model of policy-making process, and the subsequent deployment of their leverage to secure the adoption of their preferred policy options over whose implementation they have only limited influence.
Their proponents from the IFIs may step onto their planes to return home feeling fulfilled by the pledges made by African leaders to adopt the strict fiscal regimes of the SAPs. However, it is the governments in Africa that must confront the serious protests and civil unrest that often result from the SAPs, which may threaten their own political futures and the stability of the country.
This may partially or completely derail the implementation process of the SAP reforms. It is important not to mistake a policy-maker's decision for an authoritative policy decision, which is one that is actually implemented Porter with Hicks Just because a high-level policy maker announces a policy decision does not mean that policy will be implemented, or "authoritative". Donor community members tend to fall for this "official announcement illusion", only to discover that despite the announcement made to appease them, the political authorities within a country may not intend to implement the policy effectively—or at all if they regard it as political suicide.
The iterative interaction model assumes that as a policy initiative moves through the stages in the linear decision-making process; several actors are involved and their actions determine the fate of the policy at any of the stages. For the purposes of elucidating this model, the stages of the linear model can be grouped into three:. During the agenda-setting and solution stages, the government and international donor community, especially the IFIs, tend to dominate the process in virtually all African countries.
Such countries are required to undertake certain reforms prescribed by the IFIs before they will be eligible for financial assistance from them or before they can support their pleas for debt rescheduling. In short, the influence of African governments at the first two stages tends to be severely limited, despite the claims by both government and the IFIs to the contrary.
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In such a situation, to save face the government maintains that the policies are "home-grown" while the IFIs claim that the policies enjoy "national ownership". The reality, however, is that these are the imperatives of the conditionality imposed by IFIs on further financing for the country. During these stages, the influence of the special interest groups tends to be minimal.
The last stage—implementation and evaluation—is when real contestation and negotiations between the government policy-makers and the special interest groups ensue. Special interest groups can be further divided into two sub-components: the sub-group that finds the policy to be beneficial to them and therefore supports it; and the sub-group that sees the policy as detrimental and so opposes it.
Experience in Africa abounds to show that governments frequently deploy their powers to suppress any opponents of controversial policies while promoting those who favour it. Where there is relatively little popular support for a policy, it is usually easy to suppress and perhaps permanently silence the minority among the special interest groups that may oppose it.
If, however, the opponents are in the majority or politically powerful, any effort to suppress them may have only short-term success. They will likely persist in their criticism, and resist by organizing protests and civil unrests. Eventually, especially given the democratization on the continent, governments will have to choose from a difficult range of options: concede and abandon the policy; continue to implement it without any desirable effect because of a negative response of the stakeholders; or find themselves removed from or voted out of office, after which the policy will be reversed or modified beyond recognition.
There are many examples in Africa to illustrate each of these three possibilities. This means the simplistic, sequential linear process no longer suits the real needs of policy-makers in Africa. They must engage in policy debates that will involve diverse and increasingly vociferous groups of actors in all stages of the process. However, till now, governments in league with the IFIs still tend to dominate the first two stages, while special interest groups and the non-governmental actors and organizations tend to be more influential during the last stage.
To appreciate the nature of the demands for policy research inputs in the policy-making process described in the preceding section, it is necessary to examine the diverse nature of policy research organizations themselves. It is important to note that each of the three groups of actors—government, IFI and non-state—now actively participate in each of the stages of the iterative interactive policy-making process. Quite a number of non-state actors now have a research organization or they have a department devoted to research within their organization.
In any case, they can afford to hire a consultant or commission a study to analyse the impact of a particular policy on their interests. Undoubtedly, the IFIs have the most elaborate and best-endowed research outfits in the world. Thus it is reasonable to assume that each of the three groups of actors that interact in each of the three stages of the policy-making process either own or can acquire policy research output for their use in influencing the process.
For those that own a research outfit, it can be assumed that their outfits can either respond to the demand for policy research or receive research outputs from their organizations as a matter of course. In that case, such research organizations are necessarily sympathetic to the philosophy and world view of their owners. In fact, to retain the attention and continued support of their owners, some of these organizations exhibit greater dogmatism than their owners.
Of course, owners of research outfits can outsource policy research outputs through consultancies or commissioned studies and they do so for various reasons, including when they are seeking an independent opinion. Actors that do not own a policy research outfit can only receive research output they require by commissioning a study, provided that they are groups or segments of the society with the means to do so. There is not just a wide variety of research outfits at work in Africa, there are also different types of policy research, which need to be identified to understand the nature of the demand for this research.
Each type of policy research has its own challenges and opportunities. Put simply, policy research can be defined as scientific inquiry into a phenomenon or subject that is intended to produce facts that translate into policy advice to feed into the process. This is distinct from advice based on tradition, convention, intuition, hunch or rule of thumb, and is known as "evidence-based policy advice".
The following list identifies four main types of policy research:. This type of research is normally carried out by a research outfit owned by a parent organization or within a research department of an organization. Evaluative research may be ex-post or ex-ante. While evaluative research can be procured through consultancies or commissioned studies, a research outfit owned by a parent organization or within an organization's research department can also conduct it. Prognostic research is invariably carried out by a research outfit owned by a parent organization or within a research department of an organization.
Prospective research is also carried out by a research outfit owned by a parent organization or within a research department of an organization. Obviously, non-state actors and donors without their own research organizations or departments are likely to demand more evaluative research than the others. Given their limited size and resource endowments, they have difficulty sustaining these research activities and seldom have the capacity to carry out prognostic and prospective research.
Similar constraints limit government-owned research organizations in Africa. In addition, they tend to operate under the prevailing paradigm that is averse to long-range planning as a strategy for development management. Donors have bona fide and well-endowed research outfits capable of engaging in all types of policy research. The African Economic Research Consortium AERC , through its thematic and collaborative policy research projects conducted by its large network members, is perhaps the only regional organization that engages in the four types of policy research to produce outputs in all four categories.
Having looked at the characteristics of the actors in the policy process, the features of policy research organizations as they relate to ownership and the associated predisposition to accessing and using policy research, and with a typology of policy research in hand, we now have the full context in which to examine the nature of the demand for policy research input in the policy-making process in SSA. First, it is important to recognize that the demand for policy research by non-state actors and donors without policy research organizations of their own is likely to be episodic, induced by the need to respond to an urgent problem or crisis.
Research is required when these actors want to argue for a change in policy or draw attention to a problem that threatens their interests, or those of their beneficiaries. Such research, which is mainly evaluative, is demanded when this class of actors want to intervene at the agenda-setting or the implementation stages of the policy process. They meet this demand for research findings through consultancies or commissioned research.
Non-state actors are not particularly effective participants at the agenda-setting stage, while the donors are not particularly effective in the implementation stage. Accordingly, it appears that the demand for research by non-state actors and donors without their own research outfits is unlikely to have a profound influence on the iterative interactive policy-making process. Expectedly, this class of non-state actors tends also to have greater influence on the policy process than their counterparts without research outfits.
They are, therefore, likely to demand and effectively use the research findings from their own organizations for agenda-setting, and challenge implementation of policies that have undesirable effects on them. Examples of non-state actors in this group are chambers of commerce, bankers' groups and manufacturers' associations. In several African countries, these associations submit policy memoranda to government and engage in effective and persuasive lobbying and advocacy activities on the basis of the evidence obtained from their research outfits.
As one interviewee from a non-governmental organization put it succinctly in Coe et al. State actors generally own at least one policy research outfit, either as a department within a ministry or as an autonomous organization outside the government bureaucracy. Invariably all central banks have a research department.
Indeed, these organizations have considerable difficulty sustaining even these two types of research activities. They must attract donor funding, which is never guaranteed. The result, therefore, is that government demand for research is usually a result of a crisis caused by the implementation of a policy, or to defend and justify a particular policy action, or simply as a delay tactic to temporarily still critics Coe et al.
The dearth of prospective and prognostic research carried out by government organizations in Africa suggests that governments do not and cannot demand a continuous supply of knowledge generated by their own departments and agencies. This in turn puts them in a nowin "Catch" situation; their lack of capacity prevents them from doing the prospective and prognostic research to produce outputs needed to shape policies.
They become marginalized, essentially reactive and defensive rather than proactive, and state actors then tend to undervalue them and their outputs. This is especially the case if the policy-makers cannot lay their hands on research evidence to help them win a policy argument with other actors during any of the three stages of the process. This failure may not be a reflection of defective research output, rather it simply reveals the relative weaknesses of some actors—and the enormous powers of others. The IFIs have the best endowed research outfits in the world.
They engage in each of the four types of policy research. As a result, they monopolize the markets for prognostic and prospective policy research outputs, which in turn allows them to dominate the agenda-setting and solution stages of the policy-making process in Africa and elsewhere in the developing world.
Through the subsequent prospective research, they are able to initiate discourses on imminent problems and solutions, even before the other actors have recognized the problems. Through prognostic research, they are able to influence—if not dictate—the development paradigm and the associated philosophical underpinnings of development policy. Their monopoly of these two important markets for policy research creates a "no alternative" syndrome, as no organization in Africa is in a position to produce similar research outputs that may—and also may not —confirm the findings of the studies by the IFIs.
The research outfits of these IFIs, like their counterparts owned by government and non-state actors, normally articulate the problems and solutions in ways compatible with the mandate and interest of their owners. It turns out that there is nothing guaranteeing that proposals that are consistent with the interests of these organizations will necessarily be in the interest of their client countries. It is, therefore, the primary responsibility of the other actors to break the monopoly that the IFIs currently hold on prospective and prognostic policy research output, if they too are to be effective participants in the agenda-setting and solution stages of the policy-making process.
It is up to the other actors to strengthen their own research capacities to balance the playing field by reducing the excessive domination of the policy-making process by one set of actors. This does not imply that increasing the influence of other actors throughout the policy-making process, the outcome will necessarily be different.
Rather, the resulting policy decisions and choices will be genuinely participatory and broadly owned by all stakeholders, including the development partners. This will help ensure that policies do not result in perverse and destabilizing responses among national organizations and stakeholders within Africa, thereby creating the necessary conditions for successful and effective policy implementation, with less disappointing outcomes.
There are clear challenges to improving the policy-making processes—and thus policies—in Africa by better using research to analyse the prospective and unforeseen impact of those policies. First, an iterative interactive policy-making process is a better reflection of the reality in the African context than is the linear model. This is because the influence of donors and IFIs, and to a lesser degree the state actors, dominate the agenda-setting and solution stages of the iterative interactive policy-making process, while the non-state actors exert greater influence on the implementation stage.
And as has been shown here, policies that do not enjoy the support of a majority of the socially powerful and politically influential non-state actors are not likely to be effectively and efficiently implemented. Second, the research organizations owned by African governments and non-state African actors are chronically short of resources and they tend to concentrate on evaluative, and to a lesser degree, monitoring research.
They rarely engage in prognostic and prospective research, making them essentially reactive research organizations. The result is they cannot initiate discourses on issues of development in setting agendas and finding solutions. Third, only the research outfits of the IFIs produce the four main types of policy research: surveillance; evaluative; prospective; and prognostic. They therefore dominate the agenda-setting and solution stages of the iterative interactive policy-making process.
However, they have limited influence on the implementation stage so the efficacy of their ideas in enhancing development is severely hampered because the IFI-generated policies that African governments find it expedient to adopt are often not implemented. In short, their policy proposals are not authoritative. The upshot is that African policy-makers seldom use African-generated policy research when they formulate policies, not only because of Caplan's "two community" arguments but probably even more importantly because of the uneven power relations of the various actors in the stages of the policy-making process and the inability of national research organizations to engage in prospective and prognostic research.
The donor community, led by the IFIs, uses financial and other leverage it possesses because of its relative power and influence, as a strategy to persuade African governments to adopt the agenda and solutions proposed by the IFIs. And yet, these solutions are rarely implemented effectively or with the desired outcomes. This is a major challenge that must be addressed. There are major opportunities for enhancing the utilization of policy research in policy-making in Africa, not least of which is that the international community is now actively promoting an enabling environment for participatory development.
At the national level, African governments are becoming more tolerant of alternative view points. The era of massive suppression of different perspectives and opinions is fading away. The space for participation in the policy-making process is expanding systematically. There are cases where governments have reversed unpopular policies and there are a few cases where governments have been changed partly on account of the lack of authoritative policies.
At the institutional level, in virtually all African countries a significant number of policy research organizations now exist and produce outputs with enormous potential for improving the policy process on the continent. The capacity-building activities of the African Economic Research Consortium over the past fifteen years have increased the supply of high-calibre economists capable of doing high-quality and highly relevant policy research. The role of the African Capacity-Building Foundation in actively promoting the establishment of policy research organizations where none existed, and supporting the ones that did with institutional development grants, has contributed to the significant increase in the number of countries with policy research organizations both within and outside government.
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Currently, the ACBF is promoting the establishment of policy research units in the legislative arms of governments to enhance the quality of policy debates and eventually, policy decisions and outcomes. At the international level, the commitment to a participatory policy-making process through the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers PRSPs creates opportunities for all stakeholders to participate in the agenda-setting, solution and implementation stages of the iterative interactive policy-making process.
Also, the global commitment to accountability and transparency creates opportunity for feedback from all stakeholders. Moreover, the IFIs are becoming more flexible and less dogmatic than they tended to be during the final two decades of the last century. The so-called "Washington Consensus" 1 has been toned down at least and the World Bank in particular has been quite receptive to the idea of cooperating with national research organizations in conducting policy research and analysis.
Nevertheless, the strategy still remains that of relating to these organizations on a consultancy basis. What is needed now is adequate and sustained core funding to give these research organizations the jump-start they need to become self-sustaining in flourishing economies on the continent, which will in turn ensure appropriate and sound development policies that feed back into those economies. The initiative of the AERC to strengthen its relationship with national and regional policy research organizations and research centres within universities would also benefit from increased support and encouragement, especially as this would greatly reinforce linkages between research and policy, and the corollary, between policy and research.
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Indeed, since AERC has consolidated its capacity-building activities through research and training, it should be encouraged to engage in the type of institutional support activities provided by SISERA. This would complement current AERC capacity-building activities by creating opportunities for effective, relevant and contextually meaningful mobilization of senior researchers to conduct all four types of policy research discussed in this paper. Also, there is need to intensify and systematize cooperation between policy research organizations of the IFIs and the donors, and their counterparts in African countries.
The competition that is desirable among research organizations is the contest of ideas and not the conquest and organizational monopoly of ideas and influence. In this regard, the UN system, World Bank and IMF, as well as other donors should intensify their reliance on national research organizations to carry out country-level research and analysis.
As a matter of principle, the research outfits of the IFIs should work in concert with and engage national research outfits in the agenda-setting and solution stages of the policy process. This calls for an extensive and sustained research partnership between research organizations of the IFIs and their counterparts in Africa.
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In that regard, dogmatism should give way to pragmatism to enable genuine contest of ideas. The IFIs and other donors can then deploy their leverages on government to adopt the agenda and solutions arrived at in collaboration with research organizations within the countries themselves because the policy decision arrived at in this way is likely to be effectively implemented and become authoritative. The Washington Consensus was a set of rigid policies proposed by John Williamson of the Institute for International Economics in , which was purported to be the recipe for promoting economic growth in Latin America.
Social science research in Nigeria: the problem of policy relevance. Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences 8 2 December: — Social science research in Nigeria: which way forward? Ajakaiye D Olu. Marketing acceptance of research findings to policy-makers. IN: Sanusi Haroun Usman ed. Public policy coordination in Nigeria. Caplan N. The two communities' theory and knowledge. American Behavioural Scientist Tracking routes towards impact. Garrett JL and Islam Y. Policy research and the policy process: do the twain ever meet? Gatekeeper Services No. Grindle M and Thomas John.
After decision: implementing policy reforms in developing countries. World Development 18 8 — Public choice and policy change: the political economy of reform in developing countries. Maessen O. Influence of research on public policy. Neilson S. IDRC-supported research and its influence on public policy: knowledge utilization and policy processes: a literature review.
Phillips L. London: Lynne Rienner Publishers. Porter RD with Hicks I. Knowledge utilization and the process of policy formulation: towards a framework for Africa. Sanda AO ed. Social sciences and social policy in Nigeria. Bridging research and policy. Sutton R. The policy process: an overview. The book describes the water paradox—how a local resource has become a global product—and the implications of this in how we identify challenges and make policy in the water sector.
Over the last 20 years, the foundations of local and national water systems have been rocked by a wave of changes. The authors in this book, experts in a wide range of disciplines, address the resulting debates and issues: water as a commodity and patrimony, technological rent, liberalization and privatization, the continuing evolution of water management and policy at the European level, decision making and stakeholder participation, conflict and consensus, and the inevitable growth of counterpowers at the local and international levels, promoted by the advocates of sustainable development.
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