Integrating research and governance

Sounds great. But how do you do it? How can we as researchers for development do projects that have an impact on governance in the countries we work in? Or, is there a problem in this question already, as it sounds like: First we do research, then we go and have an impact.

Should the question rather be: How can we integrate our research projects into local needs and structures in such a way, that research questions are relevant, methods appropriate, results understandable and inviting our partners to act on them…


doing embedded research (like embedded journalism) that just finds out what the powerful wish to hear and serves particular local vested interests?

I have promised to write about this question and am planning to interview governance actors in Ghana about their experiences with research – and talk with researchers about their experiences with trying to have an impact.

As I am developing an appropriate tool I am toying with the idea of asking people about their best and worst experiences, following an approach developed by a group around the German organizational psychologist Siegfried Greif who analyzed the success and failure of organizational restructuring in the corporate world.

And I’m drawing a Net-Map reflecting on my own experiences in Ghana. What I end up doing is to fill the whole surrounding space around the map with my written comments about the links that are positive drivers and those that are obstacles for integration, note down the many remaining questions and more general observations about this slowly evolving fruitful collaboration. With this added qualitative commentary the map looks so much more informative and self-explanatory than a map that just consists of actors and links.

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