Published Date: Aug 18, 2014
Press release Karachi
Improved organizational structures stressed for informed policy-making
18 August 2014, Karachi: “Twelve hours of secluded thought led to the idea of civil disobedience in the country”, this was expressed by senior MQM leader Dr. Farooq Sattar here today. He was speaking as a Chief Guest at a book launch titled “Action Research and Organizational Capacity Building; Journeys of Change in Southern Think-tanks”, organized by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).
Commenting on the need for evidence-based knowledge and knowledge management, he acknowledged the role of the civil society with regards to policy-making in Pakistan. He also said that like the civil society, political parties should also engage in self-assessment and pursue more democratization within their own structures. In that regard, he announced that the MQM is also in the process of revamping its party structure and would soon be coming out with a revised constitution of the party.
Mome Saleem, Research Coordinator, SDPI, introduced the book based on case studies on organizational capacity building of think-tanks from five countries across the Global South, including Groupo Faro (Equador), Institute of Economic Affairs (Ghana), Institute of Policy Analysis and Research (Rwanda), Social Policy and Development Centre (Pakistan), Centre for Poverty Analysis (Sri Lanka) and SDPI (Pakistan). She explained that unlike theoretical research action research is more inclusive of stakeholders and is therefore more participatory. “Action research is a self-reflective process”, she observed. The organizational capacity building project is supported by the International Development Resource Centre (IDRC), Canada.
Asif Saeed Memon, Associate Research Fellow, SDPI, presented findings from the research and highlighted four elements in organizational capacity building, namely knowledge management, capacity building of staff, mentoring of junior researchers, and resilience and institutional stability.
He added that the policy landscape in Pakistan is still immature and is undergoing a process of evolution whereby the stakeholders, such as academica, think-tanks, and media need to take stock of their respective roles. While practical research is important to address issues of public relevance, one should not discount the importance of theoretical research. There also exists a ‘north-south’ geographical divide in terms of policy research culture in Pakistan, he stressed.
While giving comments on the book, Dr. Jaffer Ahmed, University of Karachi, observed that both institutional as well as individual capacity building is important in the culture of a research organization. He also highlighted the importance of other factors for think-tanks, including financial stability, existing political environment, and the external influence in which think-tanks operate.
Asif Iqbal, Principal Economist at the Social Policy and Development Centre (SPDC), Karachi, said that there is a need to promote collaborative research not only globally but also within the country and promote an environment of collective learning.
Think-tanks offer an important medium to guide the policy making process in the country and hence should also pursue organizational capacity building in-house.