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Between Instrumentalization and Empowerment: How Ten Ghanaian Civil Society Organizations Produce and Disseminate Knowledge

By Denise Beaulieu, Ph.D.

Accra, Ghana, October 29, 2010 and Ottawa, November 6, 2010.

CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION ..................................................................................................................................................... 2 1. KNOWLEDGE FOR DEVELOPMENT: TRENDS, CONCEPTUALIZATIONS AND GAPS ................................................ 2 1.1 RENEWED ATTENTION OF THE DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY .............................................................................................2 1.2 FOCUS OF THE RESEARCH...........................................................................................................................................3 1.3 KEY DEFINITIONS......................................................................................................................................................4 2. THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK: KNOWLEDGE PRODUCTION AND DISSEMINATION ............................................... 4 2.1 THE NEW PRODUCTION OF KNOWLEDGE: MODE 1 AND MODE 2 RESEARCH .......................................................................5 2.2 CONTEXTUALIZED RESEARCH ......................................................................................................................................6 2.2 ENDOGENOUS AND EXOGENOUS KNOWLEDGE ...............................................................................................................7 2.3 KNOWLEDGE UTILIZATION MODELS AND DISSEMINATION STRATEGIES................................................................................7 3. METHODOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK ...................................................................................................................... 8 3.1 TEN CASE STUDIES ...................................................................................................................................................8 3.2 PARTICIPATING CSOS ...............................................................................................................................................8 4. MAIN FINDINGS ................................................................................................................................................. 9 4.1 TEN DIFFERENT KNOWLEDGE PRODUCTION AND DISSEMINATION PROFILES.......................................................................10 Knowledge Production .......................................................................................................................................11 Reporting on Research Findings: A Source of Epistemological Dissonance ........................................................12 Knowledge Dissemination: Multiple Objectives, Strategies and User Groups ...................................................12 4.2 FUNDING AGENCIES: THEIR INFLUENCE ON KNOWLEDGE PRODUCTION AND DISSEMINATION ................................................14 4.3 UNIVERSITY LINKAGES .............................................................................................................................................14 4.4 KNOWLEDGE IS NECESSARY BUT INSUFFICIENT: DEMOCRATIC SPACE ALSO NEEDED .............................................................15 5. IMPLICATIONS FOR POLICIES AND PROGRAMMES ........................................................................................... 15 5.1 EVIDENCE-BASED POLICIES: A POTENTIAL OPPORTUNITY FOR THE CSOS ...........................................................................15 5.2 LOOKING AT KNOWLEDGE PRODUCTION AS A SECTOR ...................................................................................................16 6. LIMITATIONS .................................................................................................................................................... 17 CONCLUSION ....................................................................................................................................................... 17

Tables
TABLE 1: CHARACTERISTICS OF MODE 1 AND MODE 2 RESEARCH ......................................................................... 5 TABLE 2: GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE PARTICIPATING CSOS ..................................................................... 9 TABLE 3: DOCUMENTS ANALYZED BY SOURCE AND TYPE ...................................................................................... 9 TABLE 4: A SAMPLE OF RESEARCH TOPICS ........................................................................................................... 10 TABLE 5: KNOWLEDGE PRODUCTION AND DISSEMINATION DIMENSIONS .......................................................... 10 TABLE 6: EXAMPLES OF RESEARCH BASED ON THEIR DEGREE OF CONTEXTUALIZATION ...................................... 11 TABLE 7: USER GROUPS TARGETED ...................................................................................................................... 13 TABLE 8: STRATEGIES USED TO REACH THE POTENTIAL USERS ............................................................................ 13

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No man should enter his own house through another man’s gate. 1 Chinua Achebe

Introduction This short document presents the results of empirical research carried out in 2007-2008 on the knowledge production and dissemination activities of ten Ghanaian civil society organizations (CSOs). This research was conducted as part of the requirements for the fulfillment of my doctoral degree, which I completed in 2009 at Université Laval, Québec, Canada. This document has six sections. In the first section, I present the current context and main issues surrounding the use of knowledge for development and an overview of the main research questions. In the second section, I introduce the main elements of the conceptual framework that guided the conduct of the research. In the third, I summarize the main elements of the methodological framework utilized. In the fourth, I present the main findings of the study. And in the fifth section, I offer an overview of the applicability of those findings for policy and programmes, most notably for both researchers and CSOs themselves. The sixth and last section contains a short discussion on the limitations of the study and of future research topics. 1. Knowledge for Development: Trends, Conceptualizations and Gaps
1.1 Renewed Attention of the Development Community

The use of knowledge has always been central to development policies and programs. However, its central role has become more explicit with the publication of the 1999 World Bank Development Report “Knowledge for Development” which raised interest among numerous development organizations and researchers. Although the World Bank‟s view of knowledge expressed in this report reflected narrow views of knowledge produced in developing countries 2, it nevertheless contributed as an impetus in the development community focusing more explicitly on the use of knowledge for development. The past decade has seen an increasing number of multilateral and bilateral development agencies adopting policies aimed at putting knowledge at the forefront of development policies and programs.3 Their commitments have since been translated into a number of different
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Chinua Achebe, Home and Exile, Anchor Books, New York, 2001, p. 17. Torres, Rosa Maria, "Knowledge-Based International Aid": Do We Want It, Do We Need It?, in Wolfgang Gmelin, Kenneth King and Simon McGrath (dir.), Development Knowledge: National Research and International Co-operation, Edinburg University of Edinburgh, Centre of African Studies (CAS), 2001, p. 103-124; Mehta, Lyla, “From Darkness to Light? Critical Reflections on the World Development Report” 1998/99, The Journal of Development Studies, 36, 1, 1999, p. 151-161. 3 At the time of conducting my research, I identified that between 2000 and 2008 seven bilateral development agencies and six multilateral development agencies had adopted policies and strategies to promote the use of knowledge for development.

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initiatives: internal knowledge management strategies, north-south knowledge transfer, capacity building support for the production of local knowledge through North-South research partnerships and support to national research systems.4 At the same time, moved by an increasing shift from service delivery to advocacy, different types of civil society organizations (CSOs) have also engaged actively in this shift towards a more explicit utilization of knowledge for development. CSOs have done so through a wide range of activities including: the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) for knowledge sharing, knowledge-based advocacy programs and projects, more traditional research and publication activities conducted in partnership with universities, to name just a few. This review of how development agencies and their partners are using knowledge for development highlights three conceptualizations of knowledge for development: 1) knowledge as a source of organizational effectiveness, 2) as a source of economic development, or 3) as a catalyst for human development. The review has also helped identify an important gap in the knowledge available, specifically the limited availability of data on Southern perspectives and initiatives on the use of knowledge for development. Indeed, apart from a few publications on traditional knowledge, I could find little information on the particular characteristics, objectives, modes of knowledge production and knowledge sharing practices of Southern organizations. As I continued researching for knowledge related activities of Southern-based organizations, I gradually became aware of the involvement of an increasing number of CSOs in the production and dissemination of knowledge, a new trend brought about by the shift of many service delivery CSOs to a practical interest in knowledge-based advocacy.5
1.2 Focus of the Research

I focussed my research on the knowledge activities carried out by Southern CSOs and made a decision to base my research in Ghana, a country that I have visited on a regular and professional basis since 1996. Ghana has a vibrant civil society composed of many organizations active in, and dedicated to - some of them for over three decades - the production and dissemination of knowledge supporting their advocacy work or, more generally, informing national development policy debates. The objective of my original research was to gain a better understanding of the knowledge production and dissemination activities of a sample of Ghanaian CSOs and to understand it within their particular context. More specifically, the research questions were: How do these
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King, Kenneth and Simon McGrath, Knowledge for Development? Comparing British, Japanese, Swedish and World Bank Aid, Londres, Zed Books, 2004. 5 Chowdhury, Naved, Chelsie Finlay-Notman and Ingie Hovland, Working Paper 272. CSO Capacity for Policy Engagement: Lessons Learned from the CDPP Consultations in Africa, Asia and Latin America, London, Overseas Development Institute (ODI), 2006; Korten, David C., Third Generation NGO Strategies: A Key to People-Centered Development, World Development, 15, Supplement, 1987, p. 145-159.

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organizations produce knowledge? What kind of knowledge are they producing? What are their dissemination objectives and strategies? Why are their funding agencies supporting these activities? And, what are the implications of their involvement in knowledge production and dissemination for development policies and programmes?
1.3 Key Definitions

For the purpose of this research, I have chosen to adopt the sociological perspective of Nico Stehr on information and knowledge. He said, “[…] information is something that we can possess, that is independent of the knower, while knowledge must be processed and interpreted and thus can potentially become a capacity for action.”6 More precisely, I was interested in knowledge that was produced through research “that deals with the current social, economic, political and/or cultural situation in developing countries”.7 The knowledge production activities that I studied fall under a broad definition of knowledge production. More precisely, “[…] any investigation towards increasing the sum of knowledge based on planned and systematic enquiry. This includes any systematic process of critical investigation and evaluation, theory building, data collection, analysis and codification relevant to the social world”8 and, finally, I used the following definition for knowledge dissemination: “All efforts made by knowledge producers to reach the potential users of their research findings, using different formats and methods.”9 2. Theoretical Framework: Knowledge Production and Dissemination The design and conduct of my research was informed by three main conceptual frameworks. First, the overarching theoretical framework that I utilized was The New Production of Knowledge10. Secondly, I drew on the works of Devish11 and Hountondji12 about endogenous and exogenous knowledge. Thirdly, I used concepts developed through empirical and theoretical research on the models of research utilization13 and on the effectiveness of various knowledge dissemination strategies.14
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Stehr, Nico. The Fragility of Modern Societies: Knowledge and Risk in the Information Age, London: Sage, 2001. Spaapen, J. “Research and Policy for Development in the Netherlands: A Radical Turn to the South?” In Shinn, T., J. Spaapen and Venni Krishna, Science and Technology in a Developing World, Dordrecht: Kluwer, p.211-241. 8 Court, Julius, Policy Engagement: How Civil Society Can Be More Effective, London: Overseas Development Institute, 2006. 9 Nutley, Sandra M., Isabel Walter and Huw T. O. Davies, Using Evidence: How Research Can Inform Public Services, Bristol, The Policy Press, 2007. 10 Gibbons, Michael et al., The New Production of Knowledge: The Dynamics of Science and Research in Contemporary Societies, Thousand Oaks, Sage, 1994. 11 Devish, René, « Les sciences et les savoirs endogènes en Afrique noire. Pespectives anthropologiques », dans Nahavandi Firouzeh (dir.), Repenser le développement et la coopération internationale. État des savoirs universitaires, Paris, Karthala, 2003, p. 109-134. 12 Hountondji, Paulin J., « Introduction: Démarginaliser », dans Paulin J. Hountondji (dir.), Les savoirs endogènes : pistes pour une recherche, Paris, Karthala, 1994, p. 1-36. (coll. Série des livres du CODESRIA). 13 Weiss Carol H., The Many Meanings of Research Utilization, Public Administration Review, 1979, 29, p. 426431. 14 Nutley, Sandra M., Isabel Walter and Huw T. O. Davies, Using Evidence: How Research Can Inform Public Services, Bristol, The Policy Press, 2007.

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2.1 The New Production of Knowledge: Mode 1 and Mode 2 Research

My overall research framework was one developed essentially by Gibbons et al.15 and Nowotny et al.16 explaining the evolution of the relationship between science and society and based on the presence of two coexisting modes of knowledge production in modern societies: Mode 1 and Mode 2. Let us look at these two modes in a little more detail. Mode 1 research is a disciplinary form of knowledge production, located within university settings and where research priorities are established on the basis of the researchers‟ interests. The knowledge produced is usually disseminated after the research is concluded and thus the phases of the knowledge cycle17 are implemented in a sequential fashion. In contrast, Mode 2 research is a more open, transdisciplinary and heterogeneous form of research, which is conducted by research teams, located either inside or outside university settings. In Mode 2 research the phases of the knowledge cycle are linked by feedback loops and do not necessarily occur in a sequential fashion. The context within which the findings of Mode 2 research are utilized extends beyond the immediate context of its usefulness to reach the “context of engagement” which they define as “…those further entanglements-consequences and impacts that research activities continue to generate”18. An example of a context of engagement can be found in areas where research methodologies are transferred from one domain to another, like the contribution of feminist research to gender analysis. However, Mode 2 research can coexist alongside Mode 1 research. In Table 1 below, I have outlined a summary of the principal characteristics of these two modes of research.
Table 1: Characteristics of Mode 1 and Mode 2 Research
Mode 1 Discipline Research Topics Organizational Model Quality Control Research conducted within one discipline. Chosen on the basis of interests and priorities of researchers. Permanent teams. Quality of research assessed through peer review. Through scientific journals and conferences. Mode 2 Interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary. Chosen according to the interests of a wide range of stakeholders, including the researchers. Ad hoc teams created for the purpose of the research project. Could be a virtual team. Quality of research assessed through a wide range of criteria developed by stakeholders and include reliability, validity and social robustness. During the research and various other means chosen by stakeholders.

Dissemination of Findings

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Gibbons, Michael et al., The New Production of Knowledge: The Dynamics of Science and Research in Contemporary Societies, Thousand Oaks, Sage, 1994. 16 Nowotny, Helga, Peter Scott and Michael Gibbons, Re-Thinking Science: Knowledge and the Public in an Age of Uncertainty, Cambridge, Polity, 2001. 17 Which are: Knowledge production, translation, dissemination and utilization. 18 Nowotny, Helga, Peter Scott and Michael Gibbons, Re-Thinking Science: Knowledge and the Public in an Age of Uncertainty, Cambridge, Polity, 2001.

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2.2 Contextualized Research

Gibbons et al.19 and later, Nowotny et al.20 developed the notion of contextualized research to describe a mode of knowledge production that takes into account the context through more open exchanges between the researchers and those who have a stake in research. Thus research can be weakly or strongly contextualized and, more often, can show contextualization in the middle range. Weakly contextualized research refers to research conducted within one given discipline, mostly by university researchers, supported through public financing programs in reference to a researcher's specific interests. Researchers disseminate their findings through peer-reviewed journals but with little dissemination to other stakeholders. Weakly contextualized research corresponds closely to Mode 1 research. Contextualized research of the middle range involves the participation of stakeholders in the research process, sometimes starting from the identification of research priorities to the development of questions to the conduct of the research. In some instances, the participation of other stakeholders will occur in only a few phases (for instance, the dissemination of results) and will require intense negotiations between the scientific and non-scientific participants to establish the rules of the participation of non-scientific participants in the process. When research is highly contextualized the contributions of all participants (scientific, lay people and others) are fully integrated at the outset of the project, a rare occurrence, as the authors admit that they have not found a case of highly contextualized research to present in their principal publication on the topic. The three main criticisms voiced about the authors‟ theoretical proposals were 1) that power relationships between stakeholders can be reproduced even during Mode 2 research21, 2) there is a danger of instrumentalization of the process by powerful stakeholders22 and, 3) that it would likely produce knowledge of dubious validity, having been the subject of interference by various stakeholders who, it must be emphasized, are also interest groups.23

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Gibbons, Michael et al., The New Production of Knowledge: The Dynamics of Science and Research in Contemporary Societies, Thousand Oaks, Sage, 1994.. 20 Nowotny, Helga, Peter Scott and Michael Gibbons, Re-Thinking Science: Knowledge and the Public in an Age of Uncertainty, Cambridge, Polity, 2001. 21 Weingart Peter, “From Finalisation to Mode 2: Old Wine in New Bottles?” Social Science Information, 1997, 36, 4, p. 591-613. 22 Audétat, Marc, “Review: Re-Thinking Science”, Re-Thinking Society, Social Studies of Science, 31, 6, 2001, p. 950-956; Pestre, Dominique, “Regimes of Knowledge Production in Society: Towards a More Political and Social Reading”, Minerva, 41, 2003, p. 245-261. Caswill, Chris and Elizabeth Shove, “Introducing Interactive Social Science”, Science and Public Policy, 27, 3, 2000, p. 154-157. 23 Ziman, John, “Is Science Losing its Objectivity?” Nature, 383, 1996, p. 751-754.

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2.2 Endogenous and Exogenous Knowledge

Much of the knowledge that informs development cooperation decisions is produced by researchers or consultants in the North or who come from the North to work on issues in the South. Linkages between exogenous and endogenous knowledge and the dialectics linking the two are therefore central to the dynamics of knowledge-based development. Exogenous knowledge refers to knowledge about a particular location, but produced outside of it whereas endogenous knowledge refers to knowledge about a particular location but is produced within those boundaries.24 Endogenous knowledge is not merely a reflection of the traditions that have been kept intact over time but rather a reflection of our evolving knowledge, taking as a starting point endogenous knowledge adapted to suit evolving circumstances.25
2.3 Knowledge Utilization Models and Dissemination Strategies

Although this research did not aim at assessing the impact of knowledge dissemination, the analysis of these 10 CSOs‟ dissemination strategies required an understanding of both models of research utilization and of the degree of effectiveness of the various knowledge dissemination strategies employed by knowledge producers in reaching potential users. There are three main routes through which knowledge can influence public policy and practice: instrumental, conceptual and strategic.26 First, there is the instrumental use of knowledge that refers to its direct utilization for decision-making in regards to policies, programmes or professional practices. Second, there is knowledge that can be utilized conceptually to modify the attitudes, knowledge and behaviors of specific groups. Finally, there is new knowledge that can be utilized in a strategic way to support a position or to counter a position adopted by opponents. It is difficult to study knowledge utilization from the point of view of the users. That is why it is considered more realistic to study the effectiveness of dissemination strategies27 utilized by knowledge producers.28
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Kuramoto, Juana and Francisco Sagasti, “Integrating Local and Global Knowledge, Technology and Production Systems: Challenges for Technical Cooperation”, in Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, Carlos Lopes and Khalid Malik (dir.), Capacity Development: New Solutions to Old Problems, New York, Earthscan and United Nations Development Program (UNDP), 2002, p. 203-228; Ela, Jean-Marc, Savoirs endogènes, risques technologiques et sociétés, dans Jean Marc Ela Innovations sociales et rennaissance de l'Afrique noire, Paris, L'Harmattan, 1998, p. 173-236. 25 Devish, René, « Les sciences et les savoirs endogènes en Afrique noire. Pespectives anthropologiques », dans Nahavandi Firouzeh (dir.), Repenser le développement et la coopération internationale. État des savoirs universitaires, Paris, Karthala, 2003, p. 119. 26 Nutley, Sandra M., Isabel Walter and Huw T. O. Davies, Using Evidence: How Research Can Inform Public Services, Bristol, The Policy Press, 2007; Weiss Carol H., The Many Meanings of Research Utilization, Public Administration Review, 1979, 29, p. 426-431. 27 In this sub-section on knowledge dissemination, it is assumed that knowledge producers are those that disseminate knowledge to potential user groups, a relevant assumption in the context of this research. However, in other contexts, we find an increasing number of organizations and individuals, sometimes called knowledge brokers, who act as intermediaries between producers and users. 28 Nutley, Sandra M., Isabel Walter and Huw T. O. Davies, Using Evidence: How Research Can Inform Public Services, Bristol, The Policy Press, 2007.

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There are many ways to classify knowledge dissemination strategies. Unsurprisingly, many authors have found that the degree of interaction between the knowledge producers and potential users during and after the research was one of the most promising predictors of research utilization.29 This position led me to choose the degree of interaction as a criterion to classify knowledge dissemination strategies into two categories: one-way strategies and interactive strategies. One-way dissemination strategies do not have built-in feedback mechanisms and thus involve no or very limited interaction between knowledge producers and users. On the other hand, interactive strategies do involve different degrees of interaction between knowledge producers and users. This type of strategy usually assumes the presence of some kind of public forum which becomes a space for the production, validation or dissemination of new knowledge by the stakeholders. Depending on the type of forum, there will be - more or less - interaction between the researchers and other stakeholders and ordinary people who will all play different roles.30 3. Methodological Framework
3.1 Ten Case Studies

In my research, I employed a multiple31 case study methodology, which involved 10 Ghanaian case studies, each of which focussed on the knowledge production and dissemination activities of each participating CSO.
3.2 Participating CSOs

In 2007, I identified 30 Ghanaian CSOs engaged in the production and dissemination of knowledge as a central part of their mission. Of this group, a sample of 10 Accra-based organizations directly expressed interest in taking part in the research. On the basis of how each articulated knowledge, advocacy and, in some cases, program delivery, I classified the CSOs into three categories. The first category, Research and Advocacy Organizations (RAOs), comprised three CSOs who pursued research as their primary focus and supported this with advocacy. The second group, Advocacy and Research Organizations (AROs), comprised three CSOs who pursued advocacy as their main focus and supported it with various types of evidence, mostly derived from their own research activities. Lastly, the third group, Programme Delivery, Research and Advocacy Organizations (PRAOs), included four CSOs who were involved in programme delivery, research and advocacy.
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Nutley Sandra, Isobel Walter and Huw Davies, “From Knowing to Doing: A Framework for Understanding the Evidence into Practice Agenda”, National College for School Leardership, 2003; Huberman, Michael, “Linkage between Researchers and Practitioners: A Qualitative Study”, American Educational Research Journal, Vol. 27, No. 2 (Summer,1990), pp. 363-391. 30 Callon, Michel, “The Role of Lay People in the Production and Dissemination of Scientific Knowledge”, Science, Technology and Society, 4, 1, 1999, p. 81-94. 31 Stake, Robert E., Multiple Case Study Analysis, The Guilford Press, New York, 2006.

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Table 2: General Characteristics of the Participating CSOs
Year established: between 1974 and 2000. They all produce and disseminate knowledge since their creation. Priority sectors: macro economics, environment, nature conservation, women’s rights, basic human needs, economic development Mostly multilateral and bilateral development agencies and international CSOs with two exceptions: one is funded by research think tanks from Europe, the UK and the USA and only one of the 10 NGOs is funded by private sector enterprises.

During the May 2007-May 2008 period I collected data through 33 semi-structured interviews held with CSO representatives and 11 interviews with representatives of funding organizations. 32 I also held two focus group discussions, one with a staff team from a multilateral agency and the other with a research team from a participating CSO. I also collected and analyzed almost 400 documents from various sources. Table 3 below presents some details on the documents collected, their source and type.
Table 3: Documents Analyzed by Source and Type
Source: CSOs Advocacy Management Source: Funding organizations Project Studies/concept management papers 25 18 Other Sources Third party research/report 15

Type

Research

Public documents 9

Total

92

129

91

383

The great diversity of documents in terms of formats, topics and purpose created a few challenges for their analysis but their large number assisted in triangulating and corroborating the information collected and they are, nevertheless, illustrative of an overall pattern that I was able to discover in each organization. The validation of the data collected occurred through various exchanges with the research participants during the last phase of the data collection. The data analysis involved single case and cross-case analysis. 4. Main Findings The analyzed data revealed a great deal of diversity with respect to dimensions of the knowledge production activities of the participating CSOs. As demonstrated in the table below these organizations are carrying out research on a wide range of topics, some of which was conducted at the district level while other topics are identified as national-level research topics.

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I use the term „funding organization‟ in a general sense to refer to any organization that is offering financial support to the CSOs. This would include donor partners, international CSOs, private sector enterprises, international foundations and research think tanks.

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Table 4: A Sample of Research Topics
Focused       Obstacles in access to ICTs for marginalized groups. Causes of women’s limited representation in district assemblies. Challenges experienced by female Liberian refugees living in a camp in the Accra area. A census of specific flora and fauna species. Techniques applied by cocoa farmers. How to use ICT to improve farming yields.      Broader Topics The extent to which corruption is present within the Ghanaian government. Regional disparities as regard the incidence of poverty. Impact of pharmaceutical patents on Ghanaians’ access to basic drugs. Effects of decentralization policies on basic service delivery. Impacts of macroeconomic policies on poverty levels.

4.1 Ten Different Knowledge Production and Dissemination Profiles

The analysis and interpretation of the data collected led to the identification of eight characteristics that were particularly important in understanding the knowledge production and dissemination activities of each of the 10 CSOs. They are presented in Table 5 below, along with their various dimensions.
Table 5: Knowledge Production and Dissemination Dimensions

Type of Activity Knowledge Production

Characteristics and their Dimensions Degree of contextualization of research: weak, of the middle range or strong. Research protocols : qualitative, quantitative or mixed. Relative weight given to secondary and primary data sources. Main sources of secondary data: endogenous or exogenous to Ghana. Objectives of knowledge dissemination: influence policy, change peoples‟ perception, support an already taken position, empower vulnerable groups. Diversity of user groups targeted: policy and decision maker, practitioners, the general public. Mix of dissemination strategies employed: - Interactive: training, networking, ongoing dialogue. - One-way strategies: distribution of documents, public presentations. Degree of interaction with potential users: strong, medium or weak interaction.

Knowledge Dissemination

Each of the 10 participating CSOs combined the various dimensions of the eight dimensions presented above in a different way. My analysis led to the finding that there was no common pattern even within each of the three categories of CSOs. This means that they all have their own views on what is acceptable evidence for development, what is most effective as a dissemination strategy and how a CSO can make the most out of it. I would also add that it is not necessarily 10

explicit for the CSOs but that it is also an illustration of the various ways that knowledge can be used and sometimes misused.
Knowledge Production

The research conducted by the CSOs presents different degrees of contextualization that range from weakly contextualized to contextualization of the middle range. No CSO produces highly contextualized knowledge that would correspond to the characteristics of Mode 2 research described in the theoretical section of this document, mainly because there was no example of research conducted that fully integrated the participation of all stakeholders. The knowledge producers ultimately always retained some control over one or more phases of the process.
Table 6: Examples of Research Based on their Degree of Contextualization
Weakly Contextualized Research: large-scale surveys conducted in several districts to collect data on basic socioeconomic indicators; macroeconomic analysis completed on the basis of secondary data from various sources. Contextualization of the middle range : participatory research aimed at identifying the best technologies to be used to impart knowledge to farmers whom took part in some phases of the research, some environmental research conducted with the consent of communities but not necessarily their participation in all phases of the research Almost highly contextualized research: participatory research on development issues affecting the youth in selected districts; research on women’s rights involving the various stakeholders in all phases of research design, data collection, validation and analysis.

Those who are producing contextualized research tend to give a lot of room to the experience of the groups affected by the issues being researched. Their methods are usually qualitative or mixed, using both qualitative and quantitative protocols, and place a large emphasis on focus group discussions, testimonies, field visits, storytelling and various participatory or action research techniques used to collect data. All but one organization utilize a mix of secondary and primary data to conduct their research, some more than others. The main source of secondary data is from other resources available in Ghana and most often produced by Ghanaian researchers and agencies, like the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), complemented by data produced by researchers in other African countries or, more broadly, internationally. The participating CSO that does not produce primary data only uses data produced by research organizations located in Europe or the USA on broad African issues. Moreover, there is no evidence that the knowledge disseminated has been adapted to the Ghanaian context, which certainly lessens its relevance. Overall, the diversity of approaches to knowledge production appears as a source of Ghanaian richness: it allows for the availability of both in-depth knowledge on complex issues and a broader breadth of knowledge in the form of much-needed quantitative data. These various types of knowledge are vital keystones for effective decision-making and for management and programming action. 11

Reporting on Research Findings: A Source of Epistemological Dissonance

The analysis of a sample of research plans and reports has, however, raised two questions related to the presentation of research findings. First, there were several instances of inconsistencies between the research design, the research report and subsequent publications produced for the purpose of disseminating the findings to various groups. For instance, research conducted with participatory methodologies or relying on the use of life stories is often presented in reports to funding organizations as having been carried out through a use of quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Another common source of dissonance is the presentation of the results of qualitative research involving a small sample of participants in quantitative formats, thus resulting in a loss of richness combined with an inability to portray a statistically significant set of results. Secondly, I would highlight that no research report or article prepared on the sole basis of secondary data discusses the validity and reliability of the data utilized to produce findings. This may result is epistemological dissonance for the interested reader who cannot reconcile the research findings with the methods utilized to produce them and may lead to questioning the overall quality of the research.
Knowledge Dissemination: Multiple Objectives, Strategies and User Groups

Many CSOs and donor partner representatives took the position that new knowledge should directly inform national development policies and that it should be the main objective pursued by knowledge dissemination. They also argued that we should be able to identify the exact moment when a new piece of evidence has informed decision-making, thus focusing on the instrumental objective presented earlier in the theoretical section of this paper. In reality, the CSOs studied pursue four objectives in their knowledge dissemination efforts:  Instrumental: directly influencing policy and programmes;  Conceptual: contributing to a change in opinion, attitude about an issue;  Strategic: supporting their position on an issues; and  Emancipatory: facilitate the empowerment of vulnerable groups through providing them access to knowledge and information. Also, the user groups targeted are multiple and extend beyond policy and decision makers. I outline below the range of user groups targeted.

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Table 7: User Groups Targeted
Type Policy makers Examples Ministers Senior Government Officials District Assembly Members Senior Members of District Administrations Representatives of development agencies Representatives of international CSOs Practitioners Legal Aid Technicians Health Workers Farmers Ghanaian Population General population of a given district Women’s Groups Youth Groups Other Groups Researchers from other countries Traditional Chiefs

As well, the strategies used to reach the potential users covered a very wide range of activities and most CSOs used a combination of several strategies to disseminate the results of one given research undertaking.
Table 8: Strategies Used to Reach the Potential Users
One-Way Strategies Document Distribution Newspaper articles Scientific publication Briefing and other short documents Research reports Public Presentations Conferences University Lectures Radio or television interviews Public demonstrations Networking Transfer of knowledge to key people Provide knowledge to gain the support of influential people: traditional chiefs, senior officials Interactive Strategies Training Delivery of training Dialogue Sensitization workshops Various forms of dialogue with stakeholders: durbar, theatre, songs, open lines on the radio or television, video presentations followed by discussions, frequent visits to the same groups.

The CSOs all use one or more of the above-mentioned strategies to reach and inform potential users of the new knowledge produced. The combined use of various methods to reach a diversity of user groups can be very effective. Through continuous interaction users have an opportunity to learn about the new evidence produced, to attribute meaning to it within their own context and to adapt it to their own circumstances. This diversity contrasts with the opinions of the informants according to whom the changes to policies would be the sole objective of knowledge dissemination.

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4.2 Funding Agencies: their Influence on Knowledge Production and Dissemination

There are three different types of funding agencies: development agencies (bilateral and multilateral), international CSOs and private sector enterprises. They all support knowledge production and dissemination activities of CSOs and for a variety of reasons. The development agencies are trying to support increased participation by civil society in national policy debates and are thus supporting them in gathering evidence to inform their positions and strengthen the level of their participation. Against a background of increasing resources going to multi-donor budget support initiatives this support is seen as a priority and was a key factor in the creation of the Ghana Research and Advocacy Programme (GRAP). Apart from the institutional support received from GRAP, the CSOs received other funding from development agencies and international CSOs sometimes in the form of institutional funding but also support to conduct commissioned research. There is no evidence that the development agencies utilized the knowledge produced by the CSOs that they support for their own policies or programmes. This issue – and others need to be pursued through additional research. The representatives of seven of the 10 CSOs indicated that the development agencies had a strong influence on the research topics and on the general knowledge production environment, sometimes leading to the neglect of some key issues that were not considered a donor‟s priority. However, in Ghana, it is important to highlight the institutional funding offered by GRAP, which has allowed many CSOs to allocate resources with some degree of flexibility. Whereas for international CSOs and private sector enterprises, the reasons given for supporting such activities are often found in their desire to support organizations who pursue missions that are compatible with their own and in their intrinsic interest in the knowledge generated and utilized. There is some important evidence that these organizations make use of the knowledge produced by the CSOs for their own programmes.
4.3 University Linkages

The CSOs studied have various collaborative arrangements with Ghanaian, European, American and Canadian university researchers. There are three methods of collaboration:  Individual collaboration between an individual and a CSO: the individual then acts as a consultant to the CSO. In some cases, the CSO is contracted by a donor to conduct research or assessment on a specific topic and the CSO will contract a university-based researcher to do the work;  Agreement between a university (or one of its departments) for the production of a specific piece of research by a professor or a team. The professor then receives research funds and is able to pursue the research and, in some cases, to publish the findings in scientific publications; and  Institutional agreements between a CSO and one or many universities or specific departments, implemented over many years. This broader type of collaboration includes 14

joint knowledge production, student training, publications and public lectures and presentations. In two cases, the CSO researcher also teaches at a university. Such an institutional agreement has been, in some cases, conducive to the researcher being able to pursue his/her own research programme, instead of just conducting ad hoc research on different topics without strong linkages among them.
4.4 Knowledge is Necessary but Insufficient: Democratic Space also Needed

The CSOs expressed their difficulties in entering the various policy forums that they would like to influence including issue-based forums, national policy or discussions involving the government of Ghana and its donor partners. It appears that knowledge is increasingly perceived as a necessary but insufficient condition to engage in development debates. In addition, there is a need to create a democratic space where CSOs can negotiate the conditions of their participation before taking a seat at the table. The shape of this democratic space may vary according to the issue at hand. For instance, changes as regards to processes for involving civil society in development investment negotiations require a different approach than those that a coalition might want to effect, for example, in reference to a bill33 being debated in parliament. In the first case, the window of opportunity may be extended over a longer period of time, and the changes required are more related to the rules of the debate, at least to begin with. In the second, the actions must take place over a shorter period of time and, more importantly, in a more focused way. 5. Implications for Policies and Programmes
5.1 Evidence-Based Policies: a Potential Opportunity for the CSOs

Development practice is increasingly moving towards the adoption of evidence-based policies, at least in its discourse, and this encouraging trend raises the following questions:  What is an acceptable source of evidence?  What are the criteria that can be used to assess the quality of research? and,  What is the process through which knowledge is being legitimized? When CSOs are not explicit enough about the quality of their research they place themselves in a weakened position in entering the world of evidence-based policy development. This trend may be, at the same time, an opportunity for them to put forward some of their best work. Many research projects that I reviewed were truly original and of great quality. The effectiveness and relevance of development programs and of some of Ghana‟s national policies could gain greatly by using these experiences as one of several diverse sources of evidence. But a first step in getting there would be for the CSOs to be more explicit and rigorous in explaining how they arrived at their findings. The development community must be more proactive in general and in

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For example, there was lots of research findings debated and presented during the 2 years preceding the adoption of the Domestic Violence Bill in 2007.

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particular in diversifying the sources of the knowledge that it uses in making a diverse array of decisions and the CSOs can significantly contribute to their decision-making processes. In addition, being more explicit about various dissemination objectives, strategies used and user groups targeted could be a source of inspiration and guidance for both researchers and CSOs. Both want and need to learn more about the routes through which new ideas make their way into society. There are many factors that influence the extent to which new knowledge influences decision-making: the perception of power issues, the timing of the research, its relevance to current debates, the background of researchers and the capacity of those targeted to make use of the knowledge produced. These are controversial issues for which a social consensus must be built before policies can be considered. This is where the conceptual, strategic and emancipatory uses of knowledge come into play. In the context of Ghana, it might be easier to directly influence decision-making with new knowledge on the environment or private sector development than on issues like women‟s rights and domestic violence. This diversity of ways that the use of knowledge can influence society has implications for development effectiveness: by not looking beyond the instrumental use of knowledge we are missing an opportunity to better understand how new knowledge influences our societies.
5.2 Looking at Knowledge Production as a Sector

In some Ghanaian policy forums, CSOs engaged in research outnumber (and even replace) university-based researchers34 and some Ghanaian researchers have complained about the potentially negative outcomes that this poses to the development of the university sector.35 But many CSO representatives see the work of the university researchers as lacking relevance and meaningful connections with the communities and the university researchers as disconnected from the main development challenges facing Ghana. As a participant said about the university researchers „they wouldn‟t even know how to find the community‟! However, if offered as a substitute for support to research by tertiary education institutions, donor support to research conducted by CSOs can also have a number of long term negative impacts on the development of the university sector. These include:  impoverishment of intellectual life through researching the only topics deemed relevant by donor agencies and subsequent potential neglect of other important research areas like the arts, culture, philosophy and basic community research;  limited long-term research capacity building and missed opportunity to train young researchers and activists interested in development research; and
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Some university researchers conduct research for the CSOs but do soon an individual basis. Manuh, Takyiwaa, Sulley Gariba and Joseph Budu, Change and Transformation in Ghana’s Publicly Funded Universities: A Study of Experiences, Lessons & Opportunities, Oxford and Accra, James Currey and Woeli Publishing Services, 2007; Aryeetey, Ernest, The Problems of African Policy Research Institutions, Accra, Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), 2005; Sawyerr, Akilagpa, African Universities and the Challenge of Research Capacity Development, Journal of Higher Education in Africa, 2, 1, 2004, p. 213-242.

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difficulty in pursuing long term research programmes for the benefit of short-term ad hoc research projects.

The diversification of knowledge production sites is here to stay. One way out of this dilemma would be for CSOs and universities to act in a counter-intuitive way and create a space where they can collaborate on joint research initiatives instead of competing for the same funds from the same donor agencies. However, CSO-university partnerships present many challenges. This issues thus requires more investigation and would be best approached within a broader perspective looking at the Ghanaian knowledge production sector as a whole. 6. Limitations The main limitations of my research were the difficulties in generalizing from a (limited) sample of 10 CSOs, the inconclusive data on the role of funding organizations and their use of the knowledge produced by the CSOs that they support and, lastly, the limited time available to study how user groups acquire and use knowledge. More research is therefore needed on these topics and on the impact of the social distribution of knowledge on universities and what is considered acceptable evidence as the basis of development policies and programmes. Conclusion Knowledge and its effective use have the power to transform and improve peoples‟ lives. In the development field the effective use of knowledge by both researchers and development practitioners is seen as an increasingly important contributing factor to the relevance, effectiveness and success of development programs. However, present research has demonstrated that there are many other factors that impact the extent to which knowledge can contribute to effecting change. In short, however, knowledge is now a necessary and a key ingredient of sound and sustainable development. As a final and cautionary remark, I would note that it is not sufficient in itself because those who produce knowledge and that have a stake in it must be given the opportunity to engage in an array of ongoing dialogues and opportunities that are relevant to the improvement of people‟s lives.

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