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What to Read this Month
“In order to facilitate swift access to information, the foreign researcher spends money into the research environment, thus creating a peculiar market for knowledge production.”
The authors question the role of money in the production of knowledge in post-conflict contexts (e.g. payments made to interviewees and local researchers), arguing that it can restrict independent local research and exacerbate power asymmetries, and merits further scrutiny.
“Given the evolutionary roots of human cognition, we have not been surprised to find that people all over the world are prone to the same decision-making biases.”
The author explains that because people share similar human traits and biases, behavioral insights can contribute to tackling complex development challenges in a variety of cultures and economies. She emphasizes the importance of understanding context to tap into the full potential of behavioral insights and describes recent work in low- and middle- income countries.
“Foundations and evaluators will better serve the social sector by moving toward a relationship in which evaluators serve as conduits of knowledge that gather and aggregate insights across diverse contexts and organizations.”
Like with governments, philanthropic foundations often struggle to use the findings of evaluations to inform decisions and make programmatic changes. Most evaluations focus on a single foundation or program rather than sharing knowledge across institutions in the same field. This article elaborates on these challenges and proposes solutions alongside examples.
“Colleagues and other federal or state government agencies were cited as the most important sources of research information while internal agency staff were the most frequently consulted source of policy information.”
A survey of 2,000 public servants in Australia provides more evidence that academic research is not a top source of information in government decision making.
“This episode illustrates how hard it is to base policy on solid evidence when political events are moving quickly and biased, politically motivated actors are grasping at whatever straws they can find.”
In this sobering opinion piece, the author uses the example of recent increases in the local minimum wage to highlight how political decisions must at times be taken before conclusive evidence is available.
What We’re Working On
How can you strategically communicate using evidence to influence policy or program changes, mobilize supporters to take action, or seek input from citizens? We recently facilitated a workshop on communicating evidence for 3ie members using our Agency Roadmap for Building Strategic, Evidence-Based Communications Plans. The roadmap outlines key questions to help agencies identify their communications goals and target audiences, create compelling messages and engage allies, select best-fit tools and channels, and measure the results of communications activities.
What challenges do you face in communicating evidence to key audiences within or outside your agency, and what tools and resources would help you do so? Do you have any feedback on our Roadmap? We hope to hear from you!