Crossing Lines: Research and Policy Networks for Developing Country Education

By Noel F. McGinn | Go to book overview

already existed in the South. State-of-the-art reviews of research would be used to identify the range of options available, rather than to suggest universal remedies. Given an interest in expansion of the range of options available to policy makers, reviewers attempted to include all that was "known," even if publication did not meet the canons of rigorous social science. Because the network included researchers and policy makers the advisory function became a dialogue among equals, rather than a process of transfer of knowledge from researchers to policy makers.

NORRAG is one of the organizations that emerged from the original IDRC grant, and is the sponsor of this book. King, and Carton in the following piece, provide details on the operation of NORRAG as a network. A critical reading of their texts indicates a shift away from dissemination of what is known toward development of a shared understanding through dialogue. Research and information continue to play a central role as the vehicle and focus of the dialogue, but the purpose of the association is now less the production of research and more the production of shared understanding. How to accomplish this at great distance and across cultural boundaries remains a central challenge.

Carton offers four suggestive criteria or concepts to assess the condition of a network. First, networks can be more or less connected to other systems. Networks that intend to have effects outside their membership require connections to the outside. Second, networks vary in the number of connections among their members. The more connections within the network that each member has, the more effective is the network. Third, if McGinn is right in insisting that internal connectedness leads over time to greater ease of communication, then the ability of parts of a network to communicate without the formal mechanisms set up by the center are evidence of success. Finally, a network succeeds only if there are few "free riders" or "spectators." Especially if one sees a network as a means for generation of knowledge, and not just its transmission, then the activeness of the membership is critical.


NOTE
1.
These terms are dated now, and should be read in historical context.

-46-

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