BRIDGING RESEARCH, POLICY, AND PRACTICE IN AFRICAN AGRICULTURE: Progress and problems in confronting hunger and poverty Reportar como inadecuado

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Policy research on African agriculture is long on prescriptions for what needs tobe done to spur agricultural growth but short on how such prescriptions might beimplemented in practice. What explains this state of affairs? What might be done tocorrect it, and, most important, how? This paper addresses these questions via acomprehensive review and assessment of the literature on the role and impact of researchin policy processes. Six major schools of thought are identified: the rational model;pragmatism under bounded rationality; innovation diffusion; knowledge management;impact assessment; and evidence-based-practice. The rational model—with itsunderlying metaphor of a “policy cycle” comprising problem definition and agendasetting, formal decision making, policy implementation, evaluation, and then back toproblem definition and agenda setting, and so on—has been criticized as too simplisticand unrealistic. Yet it remains the dominant framework guiding attempts to bridge gapsbetween researchers and policy makers. Each of the other five schools relaxes certainassumptions embedded within the rational model—e.g., wholly rational policy makers,procedural certainty, well-defined research questions, well-defined user groups, well-definedchannels of communication. In so doing, they achieve greater realism but at thecost of clarity and tractability. A unified portable framework representing all policyprocesses and capturing all possible choices and tradeoffs faced in bridging research,policy, and practice does not currently exist and is unlikely ever to emerge. Its absence isa logical outcome of the context-specificity and social embeddedness of knowledge. Afundamental shift in focus from a “researcher-as-disseminator” paradigm to a“practitioner-as-learner” paradigm is suggested by the literature, featuring contingentapproaches that recognize and respond to context-specificity and social embeddedness.At bottom, the issue is how to promote “evidence-readiness” among inherentlyconservative and pragmatic policy makers and practitioners and “user-readiness” amonginherently abstraction-oriented researchers.

Subject(s): Food Security and Poverty

Research and Development/Tech Change/Emerging Technologies

Issue Date: 2004-07

Publication Type: Working or Discussion Paper

PURL Identifier:

Total Pages: 38

Series Statement: DSDG Discussion Paper


Record appears in: CGIAR > International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) > DSGD Discussion Papers

Autor: Omamo, Steven Were


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