Information Ecosystems of Policy Actors
Reviewing the Landscape
Simon J. Batchelor
This is a draft report to share some interim findings from the study
Ecosystems of Policy Actors
reviewing the landscape.‟ This report is for general
circulation on the understanding that it is a work in progress. The research was part of theMobilising Knowledge for Development programme based funded by DFID (UK). Theprogramme is based at IDS and works with a range of partners and collaborators tostrengthen the knowledge intermediary sector.The interim findings report on face-to-face structured interviews with 368 policy actors in 4countries
Ethiopia, Ghana, Nepal and India. The study presents data to inform keyresearch questions. With each chapter the report makes recommendations for theknowledge intermediary sector.
What Information and Communication Technology (ICT) do policy actors have accessto?
Although many countries have challenges over their use of modern ICT, policy actors as apart of the elite of the country have an equivalent access to the average Americanhousehold.For the overall sample, 90 per cent have a computer desktop either at home or the office, 88per cent have a laptop for use in either the office or home. The report makes a comparisonwith USA statistics to illustrate that policy actors in these countries have a technologicalownership comparable with the average household in the USA. Tablet use amongpolicymakers in the South among the sample was comparable to average use among USAhouseholds, at 12 per cent. Almost all respondents had a cellphone, and 40 per cent hadsmartphones. Of these 8 per cent had iPhones, 12 per cent Blackberries and 31 per cent
were „other‟ smartphones. In some countries there was a considerabl
e ownership of multiplehandsets.Early adopters of the newer forms of ICT are changing their behaviour and searching for information in new ways. Knowledge intermediaries need to adapt their mechanisms andpathways to ensure they provide content for such emerging patterns of behaviour. About 40per cent of policy actors are already using smartphones, and the development of mobileapps that assist research communications is appropriate.
Do policy actors use traditional media to inform their work?
Policy actors do use the traditional media to update themselves about their work, but thereare considerable issues of trust, and its use a primary source of local information isdiminishing.
By „traditional media‟, we mean newspapers, radio, television and o
ther public forms of broadcasting. Policy actors do engage with the traditional media and while we have seen
that they currently have very negative perceptions of the media‟s performance, nevertheless
a significant proportion of them are engaging with the media day by day. There is therefore arole for the knowledge i
ntermediary to assist the „translation‟ of research and evidence into
the media.Do policy actors rely on being given information, or do they search for it themselves?The data seems to support conventional wisdom
that the presence of computers in anoffice environment is reducing the need for policy actors to be given face-to-face briefings.