Increasing Social Science Research Capacity: Some Supply-Side Considerations

By Lunt, Neil; Davidson, Carl | Social Policy Journal of New Zealand, June 2002 | Go to article overview

Increasing Social Science Research Capacity: Some Supply-Side Considerations


Lunt, Neil, Davidson, Carl, Social Policy Journal of New Zealand


Abstract

This paper discusses the development of policy-related research capacity, with particular reference to the place of tertiary education. With regard to the recent demands for more policy-focused research, it argues that deficiencies on the supply side may prove a systematic inhibitor to a more satisfactory "utilisation equilibrium". These are issues that the public sector in the broadest sense need to act upon. Otherwise there is the danger that a capacity gap will result in growing dissatisfaction with the search for answers to the evidence-based questions "What works?" and "Where is the proof?"

INTRODUCTION

An important shift in policy thinking, both locally and internationally, has been the call for better evidence on which to base policy, programme and professional intervention. At all levels of policy development key questions being articulated are "What works?" and "where is the proof?" The question of what qualifies as adequate proof has always been a complex one, combining as it does political influences, organisational memory, tacit knowledge, and the persuasiveness of various proponents (Polanyi 1957, Kuhn 1962, Lindblom 1979, Smith 1999). However, and perhaps even because of a recognition of that complexity, within the range of sources privileged as acceptable as evidence, research has always laid claim to a prized place.

A number of factors are exerting pressure for evidence-based, or at least evidence-influenced, activity. The debate is a wide one, encompassing a plethora of policy spheres, disciplines and methodologies. A key driver here is the continuing emphasis within the public sector to secure value for money, close gaps, ensure accountability, and improve service delivery. It has been suggested that high-quality evidence is increasingly being demanded as part of the policy process (Davies et al. 2000, Ministry of Social Policy 2001). There has been recognition of the limited part played by more focused evaluation, and a debate has re-emerged about the relationship of research, evaluation and policy (State Services Commission 1999, Smithies and Bidrose 2000, Ministry of Social Policy 2001). We say re-emerged because the debate about the role of research and its links to government policy is a longstanding one, with discussions around the use of social science within government beginning in the 1930s (cf. Robb 1987) with the Social Science Research Bureau; growth within the government sector and the universities in the post-war period (Marsh 1952, McCreary 1971, Mackay 1975) and disillusionment from the 1970s and the corresponding search for an appropriate organisational model and configuration of social science (e.g., Gibson 1970, Shields 1975, Fougere and Orbell 1975, Keir 1982).

The purpose of this paper is not to rehearse debates about the value of research in the policy-making process, but to offer some ideas about preconditions for usage. The paper then identifies some of the barriers currently present in the tertiary and public sector that will--in all probability--militate against that maximisation, and it ends with some suggestions about what could be done to overcome those barriers. Essentially, our discussion is driven by what the Ministry of Social Policy (2001) discussion document refers to as a "rightward shifting demand curve by central agencies", and what we identify as a particular bottleneck to supply emanating from the tertiary sector.

Internal and External Capacity

High-quality, policy-relevant work may be sourced from a range of suppliers. Here we identify three main types:

* an agency's own internal research and evaluation capacity;

* a contractor-commissioner relation (with the contract going to the tertiary sector, market research sector, private contractors or a mixture); and

* a hybrid relationship, which may involve internal research capacity combined with external modifiers--typically consultants bringing specific skills.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Increasing Social Science Research Capacity: Some Supply-Side Considerations
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.