Colloquium on Research and Policy Processess

Posted on June 7, 2007  /  0 Comments

Rohan Samarajiva and Helani Galpaya discuss how research can influence the policy process.

We are an evidence-based policy organization. We work around:
Inputs (money, people, etc etc)
Outputs (reports, training courses, etc)
Outcomes (positive changes in the policy process)

IDRC: Putting money into research organizations which produce knowledge produces development. Not just putting money into ICTs.

Ways that research can affect policy:
1. directly, by getting an actual policy implemented or changed (rare cases)
2. ‘enlightenment’ – where research brings enlightenment, providing new insights etc.

As soon as policy researchers cross over to political appointments, they become media-based scholars. For instance, more people are killed due to traffic accidents than university shootings, yet media overplays the latter and therefore there are a number of policies implemented with regard to the latter.

One model is that people are completely rational actors. Information goes in and comes out processed. No undue influence etc. then there is a range of political models and agenda settings – what is given priority? Then an interesting thing which isn’t included here – information subsidies – every morning you walk around the regulation agency giving coffee and offering verbal info or giving a piece of paper etc – easier than finding on the web.

The overall framework consists of three dimensions. It includes the process of evidence based policy making/regulation, the recipient of this evidence and the communicator of this work. The recipients line maybe extremely concentrated on one centralized entity like Pakistan (low fragmentation) or be middle ground like India and places like Sri Lanka where there are too many players and nobody know’s what is going on (too fragmented).

Discussion of case studies:Indonesia:
Goal was to introduce competition in the Indonesian retail internet, domestic leased line, IPLC thereby bring about lower prices.
Fragmentation of stakeholders – Dominant government entity, policy maker is DGPostel. BRTI the regulator is a weak body as it requires DGPostel approval to act.
The quality of data seems to be of very high quality a lot of time was taken to standardize leased line prices. In the end it showed that Indonesia was 48 times for expensive than India which was repeated all over in multiple forums etc.
The result was partly very successful – companies dropped retail prices up to 63% and allowed competition in the international market.

The goal was to influence the universal service and Access Deficit Charge policies.
Fragmentation of Stakeholders – policy maker is DOT, but TRAI has resources, consultation process, etc.
Quality of Data – 2004 and 2005 studies carried out by LIRNEasia on regulation and investment in India, and India’s universal service and ADC respectively.
Communication of the research directly to the regulator.
Result – Specific use of LIRNEasia language by TRAI in their recommendations to DOT. By December 2006, ADC and USO policy changes.

Goal was to implement an early disaster warning system for Sri Lanka.
Fragmentation of Stakeholders was high – multiple government organisations involved.
Quality of data was also high because participatory research was carried out by LIRNEasia.
The strategy used to communicate was effective, aggressive and immediately after the tsunami. Media, public hearings/meetings etc were held.
However, the result has been a failure. No government participation in providing a nationwide early warning system for Sri Lanka.

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