oa Journal of Education - The interface between research and policy dialogue: substantive or symbolic?
While there is little consensus amongst policy scholars about the relationship between research and policy, there is some agreement that the contribution of research to the policy process is at best, weak, at worst, symbolic. The reason for this tenuous link is manifold, but some policy scholars suggest that it is a consequence of the absence of sufficient dialogue between the various participants in the policy process. This paper proposes two outcomes. First, we survey selected literature on the policy dialogue process, exploring the research policy link as it is played out in the interface between political structures and the actors involved. We explore the nature of informal and ï¿½non-linearï¿½ policy decision-making processes and identify macro formations that exert influence over which policy ideas are noticed and which are ignored. Second, in a mode of critical self-reflexivity, we document our experiences as members of a research team engaged in a policy dialogue initiative in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. Through a reflection on our research (as it unfolded) on the relationship between Information Communication Technologies (ICTs), schooling and poverty, we offer an analysis of the political, ethical, and methodological dynamics inherent in research of and/or for policy. The paper appraises the nature, quality and value of the policy dialogue opportunities afforded by the project.
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