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Chapter III Recommendations to Improve Dialogue between Researchers and Decision-makers At the end of the series of meetings, the fundamental recommendation was the inclusion of researcher - decision-maker synergies in the programmes of governments, research organisations and civil society at local, national and regional levels. To achieve this objective, four major areas of action were defined: • development of strategic alliances among the different stakeholders involved in research; • better sharing of the outputs and benefits of research; • adoption of legal and financial measures; and • joint participatory definition of research priorities. These areas were defined in the form of specific recommendations by stakeholders participating in the analysis of the current situation and future prospects. While they may seem terse, the statements represent the outcomes of dialogue that constantly referred to concrete experiences and recognized the urgent need for stronger synergy between researchers, decision-makers and civil society. 1. Creating and Strengthening Strategic Alliances between Researchers, Decision-makers and Civil Society The following five priority objectives were defined: a) Improving Governance in Research Organisations and Increasing their Openness to Decision-makers’ Requests by: • ensuring that decision-makers, researchers, parliamentarians, and civil society sit on research organisation steering bodies. This measure would facilitate decompartmentalization of research organisations and help to better address stakeholder needs and concerns; 66 African Researchers and Decision-makers • encouraging research structures to use modern management tools and techniques, like the Balanced Scorecard (BSC) , in areas such as strategic management and planning, marketing, financial management and human resource management, with a view to improving governance; • strengthening the autonomy and credibility of research organisations through diversification of research resources with assistance from stakeholders such as the private sector, which will require better response to their demands; and • making sure that research organisations form strategic alliances around organisational projects that address the concerns of decision -makers, who will play an active role both upstream and downstream of the research process. b) Diversifying Research Organisations with a View to Enhancing Decision-makers’ Involvement in Knowledge Creation by: • redefining the concept of “researchers” to include other resources or experts operating outside the traditional boundaries of research, notably decision-makers and civil society; • diversifying sources of knowledge by forming partnerships with decision-makers to collect and analyse field data, thus making research contribute substantially to understanding and improving operational policies; • targeting decision-maker needs by research organisations to ensure proactive attention will be paid to the short- and mediumterm concerns of decision-makers including provision of fitting responses through more targeted diversification; and • adopting a participatory approach that involves decision-makers and civil society, in order to better address their needs in research programme design. c) Fostering Strategic Alliances with Institutional Players such as Parliamentarians, Local Authorities and Religious Leaders To achieve this, it is important to: • form strategic alliances with these institutional actors by involving them in the research process to demonstrate its impact on people; • train and sensitize institutional actors on research issues and the importance of legislation on research, while focusing on its potential positive spin-off for people; Recommendations to Improve Dialogue 67 • provide institutional actors with research papers of interest, which should be presented in an easily understood way; and • organise with institutional actors joint events on research findings that can improve the living conditions of the population. d) Promoting and Encouraging Knowledge Ownership by Community-based Organisations and Non-governmental Organisations to Boost the Effectiveness of Advocacy In this case, there is the importance of: • involving community-based organisations (CBOs) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the process of defining research programmes, collecting data in the field and validating findings; • organizing information, education and sensitisation meetings, sessions or seminars for CBOs and NGOs to heighten understanding of research findings; and • helping CBOs and NGOs to take ownership of research findings and to popularize research results for beneficiary populations. e) Promoting the Contribution of Civil Society through Knowledge Creation and its Capacity to Mobilize Resources for Research A variety of initiatives are needed to: • form partnerships with civil society by conducting joint research of common interest; • secure researcher participation in research programmes initiated by civil society; • involve civil society researchers in research programmes, and in particular by including them in teams of professional researchers; • form partnerships with civil society on subjects of common interest and to take advantage of its capacity to mobilize resources for financing research; • undertake social mobilization activities with civil society with a view to raising popular awareness of the benefits of research findings; and • involve, on...


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