research to policy Archives — Page 2 of 2


The “twittersphere” has been abuzz, with claims of anti-intellectualism and a few admissions of fault since Nicholas Kristof’s philippic appeared. “Political science Ph.D.’s often aren’t prepared to do real-world analysis,” says Ian Bremmer, a Stanford political science Ph.D.
At the Infosys training campus in Mysore, ably served by a subset of the 7,000 employees who keep this place ticking like clockwork, we are running the pre-conference CPRsouth8 tutorials. Close to 30 young scholars (we lost several Iranian students who had applied well in time due to the obduracy of the Indian visa authorities) from Asia and Africa are engaging with the challenges of doing policy-relevant ICT research. The slidesets are downloadable here.

Mother of all memes

Posted on May 8, 2013  /  0 Comments

We at LIRNEasia grapple with the challenge of charting the influence of our research on policy in environments where the norm is not to attribute where ideas were taken from. One solution that we have tried is that of using identifiable memes in our communication, hoping that they will reappear in policy documents. The personal slogan of a Chinese leader is pretty important, as documented by the Economist. Where did the slogan come from? Quite possibly the New York Times.
Mexico is not really within our sphere of activity, but the irony of having Carlos Slim as the co-chair of the Broadband Commission has caused me to write a few blogs about telecom sector developments there. Most recently, there was this stunning news that a political consensus had been achieved to attack “the great problem of concentration in telephony, internet and television.” One year ago, the OECD conducted a review of the telecom sector in Mexico. The conclusions came under fire from the entities that benefited from the status quo. Is there a causal relation here?
It is perhaps a sign of their efficacy that think tanks in India have come under the gun, on the ground that they are funded by foreign sources and are therefore “subversive.” Rohini Nilekani, a significant philanthropist in her own right, has made a powerful argument on the contributions made to Indian public policy by think tanks and the questioning of some of these organizations obtaining some of their resources from outside India. The piece in Open on ‘Foreign Funding of NGOs’ with the subtitle ‘Should FDI in India’s thinktank sector worry us?’, has served its purpose by triggering a long-overdue reasoned debate. The author lays out various questions that might warrant their own conference or white paper.
Mobile termination prices have always been low in South Asia. S Asia also has among the lowest retail prices for mobile in the world. Therefore, the substance of the policy brief that had formed the basis of a successful intervention by our sister organization RIA to the Parliamentary Committee on Communication has little relevance to this region. However, the exemplary use of comparative data and analyses of company annual reports in relation to media pronouncements in this policy brief is worth a look. Congratulations to RIA on a job well done.
When I gave a talk a few months back at RMIT in Melbourne about how we engaged governments with policy-relevant research, a senior person in the audience said that we seemed to be having greater success in getting the government of Bangladesh to pay heed to evidence than they did in Australia. Proving him half right, the Bangladesh Telecom Regulatory Commission has convened a stakeholder meeting to obtain input for the country’s position at WCIT in Dubai. Now if the government actually votes against the ill-thought out proposals by the Arab and African states to impose access charges for Internet content, my Australian colleague will be proven 100% right. A recent report on the subject in Daily Star. Abu Saeed Khan, a senior policy fellow of Colombo-based think tank LIRNEasia, said the Bangladesh government has ignored the ITU’s directive that instructed it to consult the ITR issues with its citizens.
We’re celebrating 25 years of the Montreal Protocol. I was in Ohio when the Treaty was signed and I wasn’t too hopeful it would work. The whole thing had started with a research paper published in 1974, just 13 years before the treaty. It’s very hard to get an international treaty. Even harder to make one that actually work.

CPRsouth metrics presented at TPRC

Posted on September 23, 2012  /  0 Comments

Starting with a comparison between 40 year old TPRC, 25+ EuroCPR and 7 year old CPRsouth, I presented data from CPRsouth developed by the Human Capital Research team headed by Sujata Gamage to an engaged audience (they had to be, given it was the last session on the last day of the conference). The majority of the discussion focused on my claim that we did not focus on face-to-face interactions between scholars, government people and industry representatives, given we were a multi-country network lacking a geographical focus like Washington DC and Brussels. The presentation is here.
The pre-conference tutorials for the 7th of the CPRsouth conferences just started, here in Port Louis, Mauritius. I am teaching a unit tomorrow on research-to-policy. The slides are here. It is not easy for a capacity-building enterprise such as CPRsouth to provide evidence of efficacy in terms of taking research to policy. By definition, capacity building is a long game involving relatively young people (the average age of paper presenters is 34 years; of young scholars is 29).
In 2005, we were approached by citizens and professionals to help raise awareness about the dangers of “an inland tsunami,” dam breaches. With the help of committed professionals, a small grant of around LKR 700,000 (around USD 7000) from the local initiatives fund of CIDA, an extremely generous partner in Vanguard Management, and the active involvement of community leaders including many from Sarvodaya, we conducted a participatory research project that remains to this day one of our most successful and rewarding efforts. The end result was a USD 71 million plus World Bank soft loan to help repair 32 of the most endangered dams. If not for that initiative, one wonders whether things would be worse than today, where we are suffering the effects of multiple small tanks breached, but all the big ones safe, so far. I wrote about the need to pay more attention to dam safety and maintenance, after the first flood of 2011.
An external evaluation of the Pan Asian Networking program under which LIRNEasia was funded since 2006 has just been published on the IDRC website.  There are many references to LIRNEasia, one of the larger projects funded by PAN, but I found the para below the most intriguing: Influence on telecommunications policy reform has been one of the strongest areas of the program’s outcomes, at least in terms of explicit causality, specifically from the work of LIRNEasia.  According to many informants, however, LIRNEasia, is a special case given the organizational culture, the numbers of people devoted to working almost exclusively on policy issues, the specific policy arena in which they work, and the strong personality at the center of the group. While LIRNEasia successes are notable, the external review panel urges the program not to set LIRNEasia as a standard for outcomes, since their achievements would be difficult to replicate elsewhere. The quotation has been taken from the Findings Brief, prepared by the IDRC Evaluation Unit, though the same sentiments are also found in the External Review Report.

R2P to R2P (research to policy)

Posted on August 22, 2010  /  1 Comments

Last week, LIRNEasia’s lead scientist and the director of the knowledge to innovation project, Dr Sujata Gamage, made a presentation to the annual sessions of one of Sri Lanka’s oldest social science associations, the Social Scientists’ Association (SSA), on the literature pertaining to Research to Policy and how to take research to the policy process. Given the preoccupation of those associated with the SSA with the ethnic issue in the past decades, the very fact that they invited Sujata to react to the papers that were presented suggests a transition is underway from Right to Protect (R2P) to Research to Policy (R2P). The presentation is likely to be useful for anyone wanting a quick and comprehensive overview of the literature. It uses the work being done at LIRNEasia on the delivery of government services with IDRC support as an exemplar and is possibly the first publication of some of the findings of her research on self-organizing networks that are emerging among Sri Lankan local government authorities.
When we talk about taking research to policy, we say that it is better to change the way policy makers think than change policy. One of our big wins was the inclusion of sustainable dam safety measures in a USD 71 million World Bank credit to the Government of Sri Lanka. Now we read this in the 2010 first budget speech: Hon. Speaker while expanding irrigation infrastructure, we must also devote adequate resources for the maintenance of both minor and major irrigation systems to ensure their safety and improve water management in downstream development. The government has already implemented a programme to improve dam safety in all major irrigation projects and increase water reservoir capacity.
LIRNEasia was happy to accept the invitation of Mongolia’s DREAM IT project to conduct a training workshop on communicating for influence on policy for researchers in six sub-projects. The workshop was held on 16-17 October in rapidly changing Ulaan Baator in conditions of light snow and high enthusiasm. This was LIRNEasia’s first formal interaction with Mongolia, outside the realm of capacity building. We hope the multiple contacts that were established, with researchers, with government entities, and with media will lead to deeper relations in the future.