During an intense phase of consultations and reflective dialogue with stakeholders and actors from the system, the constraints that contribute to a low performance of the social science research system were identified.
The following bullet points list some of these areas:
- Weakly developed communication structures in the community, not well developed knowledge sharing practices with in the social science community
- Low degree of networking within the country, in the region and beyond
- A lack of a voice of the community
- Deficits in the quality of research
- Lack of a research agenda with thematic areas relevant to society, developed in consultation with different groups of society
- Absence of systemic linkages with other domains of society, such as policy development, civil society, the media and the private sector.
- Rules and regulations constraint the relevance and quality of social science research
PERFORM aims at contributing to an increased performance of national research systems by facilitating sustainable changes broadly related to areas listed above.
The following examples illustrate how we support change through interventions
- Supporting Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development in Serbia in their efforts to develop new by-laws to the Law on Scientific Work that will require research to become more relevant and accountable
- Support for the development of a Balkan Association of Applied Economists, initiated in Albania
- Supporting a process to link Ministries and selected policy projects with groups of social science research for collaboration as pilot initiative
National Research Systems and the environment in which they operate are complex. It is difficult to predict the course of change processes. Changes need to take shape within the system.
PERFORM therefore supports smaller pilot measures, that are implemented by systems actors. Apart from the actual intervention, the learning process around the implementation process of the pilot is very important in support of changes processes: Questions include what worked well, what are the impediments that have prevented better practices being applied in the past? The results from these learning events need to feedback into the process of finding solutions.
Active learning through real-world experimentation allows system actors and reformers to learn a lot from the ‘small-step’ interventions they pursue to address problems, or rather causes of problems.
They learn, for instance, about contextual constraints to change in general, how specific interventions work (or not), and how these interventions interact with other potential solutions. PERFORM supports government institutions to experiment with operating systemic linkages with the social science research system. This allows them to understand contextual constraints and how to overcome them.
The matrix below illustrates the pathway for wider systemic change. In the adopt stage, partners pilot, experiment and draw their learnings. If the pilot was successful, the partner organisation / system actor will continue with the good practice that evolved from the pilot, but adapted by considering the learnings acquired during the pilot (Adapt). PERFORM may continue supporting the application of the practice, but with fewer resources. PERFORM will also support show-casing the good practice, and provide limited support for expansion. In the fourth quadrant the wider system will respond to the good practice, adjust rules and absorb it.
Facilitating the Pathway Towards Sustainable Systemic Change