Collaborative projects

28 August 2013
SERIES About The On Think Tanks Exchange

The Exchange supports two types of collaborative projects:

  1. A divers and barriers to collaboration action learning project; and
  2. A series of Policy or Organisational Development collaborative projects

The “Drivers and Barriers” Action Learning Project

One of the threads connecting the exchange events will be an “action learning” project to be carried out by the participants on “The driver and barriers faced by think tanks to collaboration within their own region and with other regions”. The aim is that by the end of the process the participants will have investigated the drivers and barriers to collaboration -as well as the effects of collaboration- and incorporated them into their own efforts.

There will be a strong  element of “action learning” in the ‘drivers and barriers’ collaborative research project, since the participants will be given time and space to reflect on the factors that affected their ability to carry out the collaborative research project (cultural differences, differences in institutional cultures, time zone differences and scheduling, etc.).

The “drivers and barriers to collaboration” project will involve activities by the participants at the events as well as between events. At each exchange event, the participants will have the opportunity to present their work, receive feedback and advice, and plan next steps in the research process.

This project also offers an opportunity to ‘break the ice’ at the first exchange event. Participants will be asked to prepare to discuss barriers with their peers.

For the first event, in Lima, the participants were asked to reflect on past experiences from their own organisations. The papers served as a discussion-starter for the project.

The papers, and other resources, will be shared during the next few weeks and updated below:

In the run up to the second event in Jakarta (#TheExchangeJakarta) we asked the participants to share some of their own reflections on the process so far. The following link up to the various posts they wrote. We will be updating the list as others become available:

Public Policy and Organisational Development Collaborations

Additionally, during the first phase the participants were expected to develop plans for collaborative  projects focused on a policy issue or an organisational development challenge or opportunity.

Originally, the proposal and project envisaged collaborative research projects (the paragraph above has been edited). However, during the first meeting in Lima it was agreed that these collaborations could also include activities, learning together, the implementation of a reform, or even developing and benefiting from shared capacity building efforts.

These plans were reviewed and finally approved by the Steering Committee at the end of the first year (mid-2014). Successful applicants received research funds (about USD8,000 per researcher depending on the plans) to undertake the projects which started at the beginning of the second year.

These collaborations involve at least 2 different think tanks and culminate in high quality project, research and communication outputs. Each participant can engage in more than one collaboration but he or she must make sure that they have sufficient time and funds for this.

As an illustration, below are some examples supported by the Think Tank Fund that served as the inspiration for the collaborations. These involved larger research teams than the ones expected in these collaboration but the choice of policy issues and the nature of the teams should provide an inspiration:

The projects that the participants have chosen are:

Strengthening communication capacity of think tanks through mapping and comparison (Communications)

This project involves:

  • Instituto de Estudios Peruanos (IEP): Francesca Uccelli from Peru
  • Centre for Political and Legal Reforms (CPLR): Nadia Dobryanska from Ukraine
  • Centre for European and North Atlantic Affairs (CENAA): Radka Vicenová from the Slovak Republic
  • Article 33 Indonesia (A33): Ermy Ardhyanti from Indonesia

It aims to strengthen the think tanks’ and the participants’ communication capacity by:

  • mapping their own communications
  • comparing communication practices of think tanks – participants
  • adopting innovations in communication revealed as a result of communication mapping and comparison with practice of other think tanks
  • designing a communication strategy for an intervention by think tanks-participants in the area of shared interest (diversity, discrimination etc)

View a presentation of the project:

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 17.24.33

How are we doing? Internal Performance Assessment for Think Tanks (PSATT)

The second project involves:

  • Irina Guruli from Georgia, Economic Policy Research Center (project specific monitoring)
  • Leandro Echt from Argentina, Center for the Implementation of Public Policies Promoting Equity and Growth (M&E processes that need strenghtening)
  • Petra Edina Reszkető from Hungary. Budapest Institute for Policy Analysis – (experience with evaluation programs)
  • Renata H. Dalaqua from Brazil, Brazilian Center for International Relations
  • Adriana Arellano from Ecuador, Grupo FARO (basic monitoring scheme)

The team wants to study and test performances assessment frameworks that consider:

  • Existing tools not used usually in the non profit sector
  • Think tanks are small and have financial sustainability issues that limit availability of staff dedicated to internal performance evaluation
  • Think tanks ‘outputs and impacts are more challenging to measure
  • Easy to apply, inexpensive tools that can foster knowledge of internal capacity and performance

View a presentation of the project:

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 17.22.12

Unraveling business models: cases from Latin America and Indonesia

The third project involves:

The team wants to develop and test a framework to study the business model of different think tanks to assess their strengths and weaknesses. The dimensions they wish to explore include:

  • Value proposition
  • Core business activities
  • Leadership
  • Governance
  • Communications
  • Funding structure
  • Staffind
  • Financial Management