An Institutional Understanding of the Transfer of Knowledge to Policy Processes: The Case of The Southern African Development Community’s Regional And National Vulnerability Assessment Committees.

Landman, Annie Petronella (2015-03)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.

Thesis

ENGLISH SUMMARY : This thesis explores institutional blockages to and catalysts for the uptake of vulnerability research in vulnerability-reducing policies in southern Africa. The Southern African Development Community’s (SADC’s) Vulnerability Assessment Committee (VAC) constitutes the case study. It offers a unique empirical account of issues of research-policy transfer to reduce vulnerability in complex socio-ecological systems (SESs). Complexity theory provides insights into the research field. It conceptually draws together contextual challenges that contribute to vulnerability in the complex southern African context, the VAC, research processes, and policy processes. Southern Africa is a complex SES with a governing subsystem. The VAC forms part of this subsystem. VAC actors collect contextual information from the SES to inform governing actors of regional vulnerability. Governing actors could then apply the information to make policies reducing regional vulnerability in the SES. An institutional approach and the Policy Arrangement Approach (PAA) are useful for researching the research-policy transfer in the VAC policy arrangement. A PAA-analysis is organised from four integrated analytical dimensions: discourses, actors and coalitions, power and resources, and institutional rules. The PAA also uncovers links between the VAC and its context. Regional food emergencies strongly influenced the establishment and evolution of the VAC. The VAC was formed as a consensual platform to address challenges created by parallel-operating multi-sectoral administration structures hindering collaboration to deal with uncertainty, as well as different frameworks producing conflicting food security results. Discourse findings indicate the VAC mainly interprets vulnerability as vulnerability to food insecurity. Discursive shifts to broader vulnerability and resilience are stunted by a governing mode that does not accommodate multi-actor governance. Findings from the combined actors and power dimensions show that the process of formalising NVACs within national governments has increased government power, reducing the power of international agencies, whose participation is vital to addressing immediate regional challenges. Untransparent political processes have excluded international agencies from VAC activities and politicised vulnerably information. Institutional rules have emerged, including formalising NVACs within governments; set research frameworks; a minimum set of vulnerability indicators to report; a consultancy culture; multiagency VAC membership; volunteerism in un-formalised NVACs; and the strategic exploitation of food security information by international agencies focused primarily on food aid interventions. From these PAA dimension insights, identified catalysts for research-policy transfer include sufficient capacity and funding, technical assistance, communication strategies between research and policy processes, and high-level political support. Research process blockages include a focus on informing emergency interventions, a lack of VAC capacity, neglected communication and dissemination strategies, and politicised research. Policy process blockages include weak national policy processes and a lack of easy access to VAC outputs. The thesis also unpacks contextual factors and spin-offs from VAC processes that perpetuate blockages. Although currently experiencing challenges, the VAC is ideally positioned to house research-policy transfer initiatives. If policy continues to be a strategy to address regional vulnerability, policies need to acknowledge complex contexts and consequently continuously adapt to changes in complex SESs. Research remains a useful tool for better contextualising adaptive policies.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Hierdie tesis ondersoek die institusionele hindernisse en katalisators in die opname van navorsingskennis in beleid wat kwesbaarheid in Suider-Afrika probeer verminder. Die Southern African Development Community (SADC) se Vulnerability Assessment Committee (VAC) vorm die gevallestudie. Dit bied 'n unieke, empiriese verslag van kwessies rondom die gebruik van kennis in beleid wat daarna streef om die kwesbaarheid van komplekse sosio-ekologiese stelsels (SES) soos Suider-Afrika aan te spreek. Kompleksiteitsteorie bied insig rakende die navorsingveld en bind die komplekse Suider-Afrikaanse konteks wat bydra tot kwesbaarheid, die VAC, navorsing-, en beleidsprosesse konseptueel saam. Die Suider-Afrikaanse SES bestaan uit sub-stelsels, waarvan een ‘n regerende rol vervul. Die VAC vorm deel van die sub-stelsel en versamel inligting uit die SES om die sub-stelsel oor plaaslike kwesbaarheid in te lig. Die regerende sub-stelsel kan dan die inligting aanwend in beleid wat plaaslike kwesbaarheid in die SES verminder. ‘n Institusionele benadering en die Policy Arrangement Approach (PAA) is nuttig vir die ondersoek van die navorsingsprobleem. Die navorsingsprobleem word uit vier analitiese PAA dimensies bestudeer: diskoerse, rolspelers en koalisies, mag en hulpbronne, en institusionele reels. Die PAA manifesteer kontekstuele faktore deur die vier dimensies, en toon dus die verband tussen die VAC en sy konteks. Die vestiging van die VAC is deur plaaslike voedselsekerheidskrisisse gemotiveer. Die VAC is geskep as 'n konsensusplatform om uitdagings wat as gevolg van parallelwerkende multi-sektorale administrasiestrukture ontstaan het, aan te spreek. Die uitdagings sluit in: beperkte samewerking en ooreenkomste, asook verskillende raamwerke wat teenstrydige kwesbaarheidsresultate geproduseer het. Diskoersbevindinge dui aan dat die VAC kwesbaarheid hoofsaaklik interpreteer as kwesbaarheid tot voedselonsekerheid. Diskursiewe verskuiwings na breer kwesbaarheid en veerkrag word beperk deur ‘n regerende sub-stelsel wat nie multi-rolspelerlidmaatskap akkommodeer nie. Bevindinge van die gekombineerde rolspeler-, koalisies-, mag- en hulpbrondimensies toon dat die proses van die formalisering van NVAC’s binne nasionale regerings, die spesifieke regerings se mag laat toeneem, en die mag van internasionale agentskappe verminder. Ondeursigtige politieke prosesse sluit internasionale agentskappe uit VAC aktiwiteite en verpolitiseer kwesbaarheidinligting. Institusionele reels het gevolglik na vore gekom, insluitend: die formalisering van NVAC’s binne regerings; onbuigsame navorsingsraamwerke; ‘n minimum kwesbaarheidaanwysers om te rapporteer; 'n konsultasiekultuur; die multi-agentskapsaard van VAClidmaatskap; vrywilligers wat werk in ongeformaliseerde NVAC’s; en die strategiese gebruik van inligting oor voedselsekerheid deur internasionale voedselhulporganisasies. Geidentifiseerde katalisators vir die gebruik van navorsingsinligting in beleidsprosesse is: voldoende kapasiteit en befondsing, tegniese bystand, kommunikasie tussen navorsing- en beleidsprosesse, en politieke steun op 'n hoe vlak. Blokkasies in die navorsingsproses is: 'n fokus op noodingrypings, 'n gebrek aan kapasiteit in die VAC, verwaarloosde kommunikasie- en verspreidingstrategiee van VAC-navorsing, en verpolitiseerde navorsing. Beleidsprosesblokkasies is: swak nasionale beleidsprosesse en ‘n gebrek aan maklike toegang tot VAC-navorsing. Die tesis bespreek ook kontekstuele faktore en neweprodukte van VACprosesse wat blokkasies laat voortbestaan. Hoewel uitdagings bestaan, is die VAC in ‘n posisie om prosesse wat die gebruik van navorsing in beleidsprosesse bevorder, te huisves. Vir die voortbestaan van beleidsontwikkeling as ‘n strategie om plaaslike kwesbaarheid aan te spreek, moet dit komplekse kontekste kan akkommodeer en gevolglik voortdurend kan aanpas by veranderinge. Navorsing bly ‘n nuttige hulpmiddel vir beter kontekstualisering van aanpasbare beleid.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/96620
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