Since 1970, IDRC has stressed that investment choices should focus on building the capacity of indigenous organizations and institutions to solve their development problems. The Centre's recently defined strategy for the 1990s (Approaches to Strengthening the Institution) seeks to ensure sustainable organizational development through a focused and holistic effort to build the capacity of its funded partners.
The experience of IDRC and other agencies indicates that creating wider change at the organizational level is conceptually and practically a more difficult and complex undertaking than is project support. At the centre of this complexity is our embryonic understanding of institutions and of building organizational capacity.
Our framework for viewing organizational capacity entails six main, interrelated areas that underlie an institution's performance: strategic leadership, human resources, other core resources, program management, process management, and interinstitutional linkages. Each of these areas contains various components (detailed in the table below) which range in importance among institutions.
|Exhibit 5.1: Components of capacity in research institutions.|
|Strategic Leadership||Leadership, Strategic Planning, Governance, Structure, Niche Management|
|Human Resources||Research, Teaching, Managerial Staff, Technical/Support Staff|
|Other Core Resources||Infrastructure, Technology, Finance|
|Program Management||Planning, Implementing, Monitoring|
|Process Management||Problem-solving, Decision-making, Communications, Monitoring and Evaluation|
|Interinstitutional Linkages||Networks, Partnerships, External Communications|
Strategy refers to all those activities that set the course for the organization and help keep it on course, in service of its mission. Strategic leadership is associated with risk, with vision, and with ideas. It is the process of setting clear organizational goals and directing the efforts of staff and stakeholders alike toward fulfilling organizational objectives. Strategic leadership of the institution involves developing ways of procuring essential resources, inspiring organization members and stakeholders to perform in ways that attain the mission, and adapting to or buffering external forces.
|Exhibit 5.2: Components of strategic leadership.|
The outcome of strategic leadership is aligned direction and action. A strategically led institution will be continuously engaged in the process of changing, adapting, and following a path that makes sense to its members and to the external stakeholders who fund the institution or confer reputation.
Leadership can exist at many places inside the organization, both formally and informally. Formal leadership is exercised by those appointed or elected to positions of authority; it entails activities such as setting direction, providing symbols of mission, ensuring that tasks are done, and supporting resource development.
Informal leadership is exerted by persons who become influential because they possess special skills or resources valued or needed by others; examples of informal leadership include spearheading the reorganization of the professional library or initiating an innovative, multidisciplinary approach to a research problem.
The more broadly that constructive leadership is assumed by members of the organization, the more vibrant and creative the organization.
Strategic planning refers to the pattern of calculated responses to the environment, including resource deployments, that enable an organization to achieve its goals. It entails formulating and implementing activities that lead to long-term organizational success. The strategic plan is a written document setting out the specific goals, priorities, and tactics that the institution intends to employ to ensure good performance.
The development, implementation, and monitoring of institutional strategies can emerge either centrally or within decentralized units. The issue for the organizational assessment is whether or not a realistic strategy is helping to guide decisions throughout the organization.
In a research organization, strategic planning is generally a participatory process that helps engender shared commitment to organizational directions. Formulating strategy begins with identifying and/or clarifying goals and objectives and determining methods for reaching them. It involves exploring the fundamental questions: What are the major services that we offer? Who are our clients and what services do they want us to provide? Do our researchers agree with organizational direction? What new directions should we be moving toward?
As detailed in Chapter 3, each element of strategy (objectives, activities, and resources) is constrained by political, social, technological and economic environmental variables, particularly in public organizations. For instance, in certain research institutions the science/technology policy of the government is a vitally important variable. Strategic planning thus typically includes a scan of both opportunities and constraints presented by the environment.
A central issue in the survival of an organization is acquiring core resources in the vital areas of funding, infrastructure, technology, and personnel. Leadership in this domain means anticipating and capitalizing on opportunities in the external environment that might yield or support needed resources. It also means predicting threats to organizational resources and intervening (typically, politically) to insure that organizational performance and survival are safeguarded. This level of leadership generally transpires between the senior executive of the organization and the governing body.
Resource acquisition entails constantly being on the look-out to create opportunities that will augment the organization's resources. This can be accomplished through forming new alliances and partnerships and by forging new ways of thinking about generating resources.
For strategies to become operational, they need to be communicated, explained, processed, and revised according to feedback from stakeholders, both internal and external. From the board on down, all members of the organization need to work toward making the institution's strategy a reality. Implementing strategy requires matching resources and activities to objectives and, if required, scaling activities to fit resource constraints (human, financial, technological, infrastructure).
|Exhibit 5.3: Questions typically asked in assessing strategy.|
The board of directors and constitution provide the legal and policy framework and direction for organizational functioning. Governance can be conceived as the point at which the external and internal environments meet. A good board of directors has its finger on the pulse of both environments; it assesses whether or not organizational initiatives are supportable, whether they meet development goals nationally and/or regionally, whether the organization is responding appropriately to important forces and trends in the field of endeavour and within the wider environment, and whether it is meeting the needs of those it serves.
At the governance level, policy issues are discussed and resolved in a timely manner, organizational policies are set, and capital and operating budgets are approved. The power and politics of the organization inevitably reside here, for the governing structure is often a forum for airing internal demands and resolving them within funding realities. Strategic direction and priorities, stakeholder representation, equity, external environmental forces (both positive and negative), as well as core resources all concern the governing body.
In research institutions, the governing body must strive to create a framework that allows experts within the organization to have the resources they need to remain on the leading edge of their fields. For instance, the board might approve the organization's acquisition of a new technology and related staff training by affirming its supportability in terms of relevance to the core mission and to the demands and needs of constituents.
|Exhibit 5.4: Questions typically asked about governance.|
The structure of an organization is the system of working relationships arrived at to divide and coordinate the tasks of people and groups working toward a common purpose. Most people visualize an organization's structure in terms of the familiar organigram. However, structure is far more: It involves the division of labour including roles, responsibility, and authority, as well the coordination of labour into units and inter- and intra-unit groupings. Structure must be assessed to see if it is facilitating or hindering movement towards the mission and goals.
The task of creating appropriate and manageable work units or departments has challenged managers and students of organizational development for decades. We now realize that the "ideal" structure is the one that best fits the situation. At issue is whether or not the organizational structure supports or inhibits the capacity of the organization to perform its work.
In looking at the structure of a research centre, we are interested in (a) departments' or other groupings' understanding of their roles in the organization, (b) whether they have the authority to carry out their roles, and (c) whether they are accountable for their work.
Coordination is the process of linking specialized activities of individuals or groups so that they can and will work toward common ends. The coordination process helps people to work in harmony by providing systems and mechanisms for understanding and communicating one another's activities.
In research perhaps more than in any other endeavour, where innovation and productivity are key, interdisciplinary teamwork is a competitive advantage. Entire networks are being formed in which the best minds collectively tackle difficult research problems, with each contributor bringing his or her special perspective and expertise. The ease with which the research institution facilitates interdisciplinary approaches to research projects is an indicator of organizational health.
Many variables influence organizational structure. History, organizational goals, strategy, governance, funding (and other) pressures from the external environment, the specific fields of research, and technology all play a role in influencing the type of structures that exist.
Another important structural consideration is the manner in which authority is shared. Organizations range from the decentralized to the centralized, from the highly participatory to the dictatorial. In assessing the organization's functioning, determining which model is better becomes a matter of judgment, for in actual fact, the appropriateness of the model depends upon the situation and context.
|Exhibit 5.5: Questions typically asked in assessing organizational structure.|
In today's global society, the success of a research institution is in part predicated on being able to establish a unique role within the society. Niche management entails carving out a particular area for the organization in the "marketplace" that matches its particular expertise. In the private sector, the marketing function evaluates an organization's image or position in the marketplace and reaches strategic decisions concerning target markets, services, and products. This model is not so far afield for research institutions, which also depend upon a client system for support namely government funders, industrial contractors, and the general public (i.e. taxpayers). For the research institution's survival, appropriate clients must be cultivated and the research products and services must meet their needs.
A research centre's niche helps clarify where it stands in relation to the constellation of other local, regional, national, and international research organizations. The organization's position helps determine the level and types of funders that can help it build capacity.
Niche management is an organizational function that forces managers to look beyond internal matters to consider the wider environment and the broader issues of our time. If this function is neglected, the organization's ability to adapt to the changing global situation will be severely limited.
Within the area of niche management, external communications are important. These will be targeted to stimulate funding (e.g. research grant proposals, requests for donor funding) or to stimulate awareness and interest regarding the services, products, and capabilities of the organization (e.g. annual reports, research reports, and newsletters to stakeholders).
|Exhibit 5.6: Questions typically asked in assessing niche management.|
The human resources (HR) of an organization consist of all staff (research, teaching, managerial, and technical/support staff) engaged in any of the organization's activities. It is well-recognized that the human resources of any organization are its most valuable asset. This is particularly true in research centres, where the people required to do the core work of the organization are highly trained individuals. IDRC has long been committed to supporting the continuing professional development of researchers in the Centre's partner institutions.
The HR management function is charged with planning and controlling this resource to make sure that peoples' needs are met. This is not merely an altruistic function, for it is highly likely that staff who are reasonably comfortable with working conditions and stimulated by the environment will be productive.
Managing human resources requires forecasting the demand and supply of staff needed to carry out the activities of the organization. HR management also entails keeping records of human resources so as to permit the creation of a more equitable employment system.
Besides assessing staffing needs, some of the specific tasks involved in HR management include recruiting and hiring the best people possible, creating an assessment system that rewards people and helps keep them in the organization, and providing for the ongoing learning and career development of employees.
|Exhibit 5.7: Questions typically asked in assessing human resources.|
Whether a government or a private sector enterprise, whether a self-contained institution or a department within a larger institution, the research entity needs well-managed resources. Having treated human resources separately, above, due to IDRC's special commitment to their development, we have grouped the other essential resources into three areas: infrastructure, technology, finance. Strategic leadership entails developing systems for their planning, acquisition, and control.
|Exhibit 5.8: Other core resources.|
Throughout the development literature, studies point to deficiencies in internal management capabilities. Stories abound about poor resource management for example, equipment remaining in crates and getting ruined before it is used and buildings falling into disrepair due to the absence of maintenance systems.
The capacity to manage resources is crucial not only to the performance of institutions but also to organizational survival. As IDRC engages in the organizational assessment process, it is likely that assessments of the current status of resource management will provide insights into how future resources or grants will be used.
Infrastructure refers to the basic environmental conditions which enable work to transpire for example, reasonable space in a building equipped with adequate lighting, clean water, a dependable supply of electricity, and transportation to and from work. In the North we take these conditions for granted, for we have the wealth and the governmental structures to support adequate infrastructure. In certain developing countries in which IDRC works, some of these fundamental conditions are missing.
Each Southern institution has its own array of assets and liabilities with respect to infrastructure resources, and the positive and negative points in each represent the starting points for information-gathering. If an organization has its basic infrastructure in place, this area will represent a small component of an assessment; if infrastructure is debilitated, however, with electricity and water found to be problem areas, then infrastructure will become a major concern.
As part of understanding capacity, one has to consider the extent to which inadequate infrastructure interferes with the functioning or the potential functioning of a specific research institution. Most of the time, deficiencies in one or more elements of infrastructure do not interfere with day-to-day work; however, at some point, work will be impacted. Typically, the crux of the infrastructure issue is maintenance, which suffers due to the lack of recurrent budgets providing for upkeep.
As technology becomes more and more sophisticated, basic infrastructure will play an increasingly important role in the type of organizational support that IDRC and its partners can provide. For example, sensitive scientific equipment cannot tolerate intermittent electrical supply, so acquiring a generator may be necessary. And if water quality is poor, purification may be required or a new well may need to be drilled to rectify the situation.
|Exhibit 5.9: Questions typically asked in assessing infrastructure.|
The technological resources of an institution encompass all of the equipment, machinery, and systems, including library information system hardware and software, that are essential to the research and training function. It is important to keep in mind that the instruments of technology are merely tools for enhancing research endeavour: ideas must inspire the technology.
The technological resources of a research centre must be appropriate to the type of work the organization is doing and must keep pace with the emerging ideas in each discipline.
Inappropriate technology can drive significant gaps between Southern and Northern research institutions, particularly in the hard sciences and engineering. Simply put, it is difficult to publish in the leading scientific journals using old technology. And in all disciplines, lack of access to the sophisticated means of accessing information used by colleagues worldwide will mean that institutions will have difficulty building the networks required for global research.
Assessing the appropriateness of organizational technology is a complex endeavour. Providing technology without developing the corresponding ability to use it is a waste of valuable resources. In general, one has to assess the ability of the organization and its units to create realistic plans for technology and to manage against these plans. If the plans are either too ambitious or not ambitious enough, an organization can have difficulty. A clear understanding of the broader strategy of the organization and of the requirements of the field is needed in order to assess the appropriateness of a given technology.
|Exhibit 5.10: Questions typically asked in assessing technological resources.|
Financial management includes the prediction of financial resource requirements (operating and capital budgets) and cash management as well as the financial accounting function. Good management of budgeting and financial record keeping is critical to overall organizational functioning. It enables essential information to be provided to the board and to those managers responsible for organizational resources. Good financial management also inspires confidence in funders who are interested in financial accountability and sound financial management.
Financial statements are a barometer of organizational health. Sound internal financial procedures regarding the administration of the organization's operating funds and likewise, of individual program grants, offer assurance to donors that their monies are being directed properly. Of particular interest, when scrutinizing an organization's financial system, is assessing what information the financial system can provide to decision makers.
Overall, important organizational goals should be supported by the budget. For example, if international exchange of information is an organizational priority, there should be evidence of funds allocated for electronic data systems, for hosting international visitors, and other related activities in support of this goal.
|Exhibit 5.11: Questions typically asked in assessing financial resources.|
A research institution's ongoing programs of research are its central endeavour and indeed, its main "product." Research-supporting services and ongoing training are also vital programs within the organization. Program management is the ability to develop and administer these programs in a way that supports the mission.
Program management is vitally connected with all other areas of organizational capacity, for ultimately, the strength of the organization's strategic leadership, human resources, other core resources, process management, and intrainstitutional linkages affect the quality of the institution's programs. Program performance is highly visible outside the organization and is often the major focus of organizational assessments.
Good program management sees to it that proper weight is given to each facet of mission fulfilment. For instance, if producing research and conducting ongoing training are both stated priorities, each should receive commensurate resources.
|Exhibit 5.12: Components of program management.|
The planning function within research program management includes the following tasks:
Research program implementation entails some or all of the following tasks:
Monitoring and evaluating research programs are necessary elements in the planning cycle. These activities involve:
Research-supporting services in the organization which must be planned for, implemented, and monitored include:
Taking a vision and making it a reality through smooth-flowing, daily work in an organization is largely dependent on the ongoing "processes." These are the internal management systems the many mechanisms that guide interactions among people to ensure that ongoing work is accomplished rather than hindered or blocked. They include planning, communication, decision-making, problem-solving, monitoring, and evaluation. Every piece of work in an organization goes through these systems.
People interact to accomplish their work, and the way that organizational processes are set up dictates the tone of the interaction that takes place. If the processes of problem-solving, decision-making, and communication are all working, the outcome is that the organization is learning and accomplishing a great deal.
Process management takes place at every level of an organization. Boards of governors must know how to plan, problem-solve, and make timely decisions. If they are deficient in these areas, organizational direction is often hampered. These same processes are at work throughout the organization, albeit at more operational levels. For instance, project units and departments need to be able to set direction and create mechanisms to carry out activities in service of this direction.
|Exhibit 5.13: Organizational process.|
Planning is the organizational process that helps predict how organization members will behave. The strategic plan sets the overall direction and, at operational levels, planning becomes the process by which strategy is translated into specific objectives and methodologies to accomplish goals. It entails optimally engaging resources of time and people (e.g. developing time-lines and schedules).
Policy and procedure development are special types of plans setting out courses of action for organization members. In research organizations, the degree to which plans, procedures, and policies are explicit varies considerably across the organization. Organization members need enough direction to know what to do to support the organization's mission and goals. The planning of policies and procedures should provide this direction adequately at all levels of the organization: for projects, for departments, and for the organization as a whole.
|Exhibit 5.14: Questions typically asked to assess planning resources.|
Plans, policies and procedures set the course for organization members, but these systems do not cover the wide assortment of actions and behaviours that people are asked to assume. This is particularly true in research institutes, where the performance of many activities relies on the creativity and personal judgment of researchers.
Problem-solving and decision-making are two interacting and mutually reinforcing processes that must function well at every level of an organization. These processes entail the ability to define important problems, gather the data to frame the issue, create a set of alternatives to deal with the problem, decide on solutions, create the conditions to carry out decisions, and monitor these decisions and the problem's progression. Timeliness is a key element in this process: Organizations must be able to identify important issues and act in a timely fashion.
|Exhibit 5.15: Questions typically asked to assess problem-solving and decision-making.|
The exchange of information and the achievement of shared understanding among members of an organization are vital goals of the internal communications function. In research institutions, continuous communication, both formal and informal, about ongoing activities is a must.
Internal communications can serve as the glue holding an organization together; alternatively, they can break it apart for both information and misinformation constantly flow in organizations. Accurate information is vital to keep employees informed as well as motivated: Aside from the specific information needed to carry out work, organization members also need information that makes them feel part of an important effort and a wider purpose. The organization must create mechanisms that help its members gain both types of information. Coordinating committees, newsletters, and meetings of various sorts all provide vehicles for transmitting correct messages. (Communications with external constituents will be dealt with below in the section on "InterInstitutional Linkages.")
|Exhibit 5.16: Questions typically asked to assess communications.|
Monitoring and evaluation are the processes used by organizations to collect and use feedback. Theoretically, monitoring and evaluation are linked to planning and decision-making. In this context, feedback should permit comparisons of what has actually happened with what was planned and with the organization's overall goals.
Monitoring and evaluation complement each other in several ways. Monitoring can help clarify program objectives, link activities and inputs to those objectives, set quantitative performance targets, collect data routinely, and feed results directly to those responsible. Evaluation looks at why and how results were or were not achieved, links specific activities to overall results, includes broader outcomes that are not readily quantifiable, explores unintended results, and provides generalizable lessons for adjustments to programs and policies to improve results.
Monitoring is the ongoing process of gathering, analyzing and reporting data on how an organization, department, or project is doing, for the purpose of managing and identifying problems at an early stage. Ideally, it is administratively light, part of the management process, and uses a small number of selected performance indicators. Designing a monitoring framework often helps to clarify objectives and program priorities. Data can be used to take corrective action to improve performance or to realign activities to suit goals.
Monitoring is most often used in the financial arena to assess how well an organization is doing in relation to the planned budget. Increasingly, with the advent of better management information systems, organizations are creating monitoring processes to track progress in other crucial aspects of their work.
Evaluation is typically a more comprehensive, summative process. It identifies factors that facilitated or hampered achievement of results and may trace the contribution of these results to broader objectives. Evaluation involves making judgments about the merit or worth of an activity at a given time, during or after implementation. It answers questions of relevance, effectiveness, and impact. For instance, should the research centre continue to support the women's entrepreneurship centre and at what funding level? How can cooperation with the extension agency be improved? Is adequate attention being paid to gender dimensions in the research? What is the expected rate of return from this research? Was the research methodology/design appropriate to the research problem? Are people using the new technology; is it beneficial to the community?
Organizations may use their own staff as evaluators (internal assessment) or evaluators from outside the organization (external assessment). Both approaches can work, depending on the methods used to design and carry out the study and on the level of commitment in the organization to learning from the assessment exercise. The existence of regular formal or informal mechanisms for reviewing and using assessment findings is an indication of the extent to which they are valued in the organization.
Evaluations tend to require more resources and to be methodologically more complex than monitoring activities. Thus they occur less frequently and focus in greater depth on specific issues and activities. In the organizational assessment process, the important issues are (1) whether monitoring and evaluation are encouraged or discouraged, and (2) what use is made of the data these processes provide.
As organizations become more and more concerned about institutionalized learning how individuals and the organization as a whole can improve and grow in knowledge the processes of monitoring and evaluation become increasingly important. Attention is being paid to how data generated from these processes can be used for learning, improvement, and change. The assessment of monitoring and evaluation activities in an organization can be an important component of organizational learning.
|Exhibit 5.17: Questions typically asked to assess monitoring and evaluation capacities.|
For research organizations engaged in creating and utilizing knowledge, it is vital to cultivate contacts with other institutions, organizations, and groups of strategic importance to the work. These may be potential collaborators and collegial bodies, potential funders, or key constituents. Formal links with others can result in a healthy exchange of approaches and resources (including knowledge and expertise) and can serve as an important reality check.
Keeping up with advances in pertinent fields of research is of crucial importance to research organizations. This means having access to wide-ranging sources of up-to-date information within each discipline. New information and technology of importance in the field bear directly on the organization's program management, from the choice of research topics to pursue to the types of training and services the institute will provide.
IDRC has been particularly strong in helping institutions capture information from beyond their boundaries. The Centre has vigorously supported libraries, information systems, and now, institutional networks and linkages to achieve this purpose and enable partner institutions to use scarce resources wisely.
|Exhibit 5.18: Methods of linking institutions.|
The research endeavour requires external collaborative linkages of many types: finding colleagues who share intellectual interests with whom to exchange and test ideas; linking with others able to fund research; sharing scarce resources (for example, libraries) with colleagues in other institutions; visiting other research institutions; and participating in external advisory committees for other organizations are all outreach activities.
Researchers have always found ways to communicate with their colleagues, whether in their own country or elsewhere in the world. Historically, contacts have occurred through attendance at conferences and through telephone and written communications, but these methods can be time-consuming and/or costly. Today, more accessible computerized networks are emerging to facilitate communication among investigators, enabling them to share data and experiences. Computer networks are indeed becoming a new organizational form. They are nonhierarchical, have no boundaries, and are easy to access. On the other hand, participating in these networks requires a commitment of resources.
IDRC has been a leader in supporting the networking of researchers in the developing world. Networking has reduced the isolation of researchers spread across wide geographical areas and has allowed researchers to stay in contact with colleagues around the world.
Networks are defined as groups of individuals or organizations that share a common interest and exchange information or resources in various forms on a regular or organized basis. Networks are effective ways to overcome the isolation of working in undeveloped research environments. Computerized information networks, in particular, have become particularly valuable facilitators of communication among investigators, enabling them to share data and experiences on-line. Indeed, in certain fields, participating in these networks is essential to keep up with fast-breaking developments; both participation and maintenance require a steady commitment of resources.
The advantages of scientific networks include the ability to pull together a critical mass of resources to address a particular research area; to serve as "institutional surrogates" for researchers in poor research environments; to coordinate the use of regional research resources; to transfer knowledge and expertise between countries, thereby broadening the national base of knowledge and experience; to reduce duplication of effort; to achieve economies of scale; and to allow contributions of greater impact through facilitating multicountry projects.
On the down side, networks can be costly to coordinate, the administrative tasks can be daunting, nonproductive networking activities can proliferate, and networking activities sometimes compete with (rather than build on) national research priorities.
Since its inception, IDRC has funded a wide variety of networks and network-related activities. It has initiated networks itself; responded to requests from developing country institutions for network support; and it has joined with other donor agencies in creating and supporting research and research-supporting networks. These networks have enabled members to share information, germ plasm, technologies or research methodologies, and combine efforts in order to solve problems of mutual concern. IDRC has come to see networking as an indispensable tool in the efficient pursuit of scientific research and technological adaptation for development purposes. The centre has found networks to be a highly adaptable mechanism for linking and meeting the needs of researchers in developing countries.
The form a network takes depends on its members' needs, the resources and capacities available, and the kind of contacts established. Networks tend to evolve as participants learn more about each other, build relationships, and discover opportunities. In IDRC's experience, networks move towards higher levels of integration and collaboration as they mature. The process reflects growth in research capacity, in mutual confidence, and in the flow of benefits from the network. The literature abounds in advice on how to promote successful networks. Some important considerations:
Membership: Network members must share a common problem or objective and be able to jointly define a common approach or strategy for finding solutions. They should have long-term commitment as well as the technical competence to contribute to finding a solution. Weak members should be balanced by strong members; both formal and informal training can be provided through the network.
Direction: Participatory governance is the key to ensuring that the network continues to serve the shared interests of its participants. Leadership for the network can be provided by an advisory group or steering committee which defines the network's research agenda, cooperatively plans how to use shared resources, and fosters a climate of trust among members.
Structure and organization: A resilient, responsive structure is essential to facilitate communication, coordinate activities, manage resources, and ensure equal opportunity and the equitable distribution of benefits among network participants. Roles of network members and of structural units such as the coordinator, the steering committee or advisory group, project leaders, consultants, and network members must be well-defined and known to all. Roles must be able to evolve as the network matures.
Donor support: Setting up and coordinating network activities require a long-term commitment of external resources to supplement the contributions of national participants. Research networks typically take two to three years to begin functioning effectively. Viability can require funding and effort for ten years or more.
Relationship to national research systems: While network structure and programming should reflect research priorities at the national level, it is unrealistic to expect national programs to reallocate large amounts of their resources to fund network activities. Hence external support is necessary to augment the funding, resources, and staff that national research systems are able to commit to the network. Attention must be paid to the division of labour and responsibilities, and the flow of benefits, between international and national members.
Over the past decade, new alliances, consortia, and partnerships have formed in both the developing and developed world to enable like-minded organizations to come together and share resources to achieve common goals and objectives.
Partnerships can develop between funders and institutions, as often occurs when Northern NGOs want to support a particular type of work within a research institute. Or they can occur between two similar institutions, as found in the linkage arrangements between Northern and Southern institutes, or among Southern insitutions. Partnerships can also be formed between an organization and its local stakeholder groups, as is often seen in health and agricultural research centres.
Formal and informal communications with key external players and constituents are vital to help foster important linkages. A continuous flow of information to the outside world keeps those in the wider environment informed, be they the general public, identified constituents, or specialized technical audiences.
|Exhibit 5.19: Questions typically asked about interinstitutional linkages.|
In research, there is a continual need to communicate results in the hard sciences, to remain credible in the field and competitive for funding, and in the social sciences, to contribute up-to-date information to the process of policy formulation.
External communications can take many forms. Indeed, they consist of any appropriate means to converse with the outside world. Besides journal articles, proven ways of communicating the organization's work to the wider public are newsletters and promotional materials crafted to create awareness and interest in the organization's work. Research reports and annual reports of activities serve to raise the organization's profile and, by keeping important stakeholders informed, can play an important role in linking the organization to the wider community.