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Using Knowledge: The Dilemmas of Bridging Research and Policy

‘Using Knowledge: The Dilemmas of Bridging Research and Policy’, Compare 32(3) 2002: 285-296



The 'knowledge agenda' has become a central part of development discourse. This paper addresses one aspect of this discourse - the use of policy research in the social sciences - and the dilemmas that have been encountered by both development agencies and researchers in communicating and making use of that research. Development agencies as well as NGOs have initiated work to evaluate and document the effectiveness of research partnerships, knowledge capacity building and (social) science policy impact. As a multilateral initiative, the Global Development Network (GDN), and especially its 'Bridging Research and Policy' project, provides a vehicle to address issues related to research impact. Twelve perspectives on improving research and policy linkages are outlined to reveal that how the problem is defined shapes policy responses. Taken together, these explanations provide a multifaceted picture of the research-policy nexus indicating that there are many possible routes to 'bridging' research and policy. These diverse perspectives will be categorised into three broad categories of explanation: (i) supply-side; (ii) demand-led; and (iii) policy currents. However, knowledge is part of the solution to many development problems but not of itself a panacea.

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