Stakeholder engagement

For researchers to be able to advocate for the use of evidence to inform policy by policy-makers, they need to understand policy-making processes and policy-makers, including their priorities, political agendas, individual passions/goals, and time constraints. Likewise, policy-makers need to be able understand and value the evidence that research can bring to their decision-making processes.

Creating platforms for improved engagement and knowledge-sharing, better access to research, and capacity-building of both policy-makers and researchers has been a core objective of the PSPPD since its inception. Furthermore, events designed to bridge the divide between researchers and policy-makers contribute to influencing perceptions and breaking stereotypes they may have about each other.

Engagement does not only need to happen between the academic and policy-making worlds, but within them as well. Rarely, if ever, are issues the domain of a single government department or a specific sector. Rather, interventions require the input of multiple stakeholders, from within and outside of government. Similarly, not just one piece of research will inform a policy; a range of evidence will be used and for this reason, it is equally important for researchers to network and collaborate with each other as well.

One of the PSPPD’s main vehicles for this kind of engagement has been its policy engagement workshops, which not only provide a platform for research grantees and policy-makers to engage with the emergent findings of the research and the anticipated policy implications, but also facilitates the development of feasible policy engagement plans that support widespread dissemination and interrogation of the research evidence for use in policy-making.

The workshops strive to build the relationships between researchers and policy-makers for sustained engagement on evidence use in policy-making, as well as deepen the understanding of researchers as to the complex nature of the policy-making environment in South Africa to enable them to inform the decision-making arena.

Dissemination conferences

Call for Proposals 2 (CfP2) research dissemination conference
Structured in the same way as the previous two conferences, the main objective of the 2017 conference was to again provide a platform for the research grantees to present their research findings and their policy relevance. A total of 13 research grants were awarded through the CfP2 under the broad theme of “Addressing the poverty and inequality challenge”, specifically covering the three overarching thematic areas of achieving human capabilities required for full participation in society, addressing the challenges of faster and more inclusive economic growth, and building a capable and developmental state. The need for innovative research, with an emphasis on implementation, was identified as a cross-cutting issue, and research within the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo provinces was prioritised. Once more, the conference created an opportunity for grantees, policy-makers, and other researchers to debate how to translate this evidence into policy for improved responses to the social and economic challenges facing the country.

Call for Proposals 1 (CfP1) research dissemination conference
The 2016 dissemination conference profiled the research work of the eight grantees who were awarded research grants through the Call for Proposals 1 (CfP1), under the theme “Working Towards Eliminating Poverty and Reducing Inequality: Addressing the Implementation Challenge”. The conference again provided a platform for the grantees to share their findings and to engage policy-makers and other stakeholders on key policy issues arising from their research. The CfP1 invited applicants to respond to a wide range of topics in the social and economic sectors and prioritised research within the Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Gauteng provinces. As with the research projects in the first phase of the PSPPD, the grantees were encouraged to make use of the data from the NIDS to analyse their areas of interest. The conference not only facilitated critical debate and discussion around the research findings and their potential policy implications, it also created a platform for fostering relationships between policy-makers and researchers to share knowledge.

Being Poor Matters!
This dissemination conference was held in 2011, towards the end of phase I of the programme. It was one of the core outputs of the programme, and showcased the findings of the 13 PSPPD-funded research projects which were awarded under a Call for Proposals (CfP) process in 2009, under the theme “Eradicating poverty and inequality: Towards well-targeted programmes that strengthen the impact of public policy, harness human capability and promote self-sufficiency”. The research covered five topics related to poverty and inequality in South Africa, including employment, education, child poverty, social cohesion, and health. The conference provided a platform for policy-makers, academia and development practitioners to engage with these research findings, discuss their relevance to policy-making, and explore ways to increase the use of research evidence in the policy-making process.