Report on the Analysis of Governance Theory and the Practice of Participation of CSOs in Research Governance

Walter Kusters, Philippe Goujon

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As stated in the DOW, the objective of WP3 is to build on the scientific results of WPs 1 and 2, in order to develop a model of CSO participation in research. It will assess the appropriateness and identify gaps and limits in current CSO governance theory and practice in line with the normative framing as developed in WP 1, and will be related to some empirical findings of WP2. As for D2.3, this means: to the extent that they are available in interpreted fashion at the moment of writing. The aim of WP3 in general is to develop a theoretically sound and – in principle – empirically supported model of CSO participation, which will be critically analysed, exploring its assumptions and limitations. As Deliverable 3.1 already made a first embryonic step to synthesise the normative approach and the empirical-analytical data analysis of the project, in view, in the long run, of a soundly-based picture of the present state of the art regarding CSO involvement, Deliverable 3.2 will go one step further in terms of attempting to exemplify the convergence of normative background and empirical analysis. An obvious constraint here is the fact that there is, as yet, and due to a delay in the case study analysis process, no finalinterpretive synthesis of the empirical data is available. Even though the nature of this deliverable will therefore not be primarily empirical, it nevertheless aims to make maximum use of the empirical findings currently available and interpreted in accordance with the Analytical Grid as foreseen in D1.4.
Consequently, the respective grids as developed in Deliverables 1.3 and 3.1, as well as the general normative and methodological framing as elaborated in WP1, will be further developed and, to the extent possible, applied to the practices identified in WP2, i.e. validated against selected case studies and in view of model building. The appropriateness and gaps in existing theories will be assessed, and an analysis will be conducted of the practical role of theory in participation practices, in an attempt to align the impact of participation with the approaches and methods employed. It is expected that practical applications can be categorised in terms of the existing theories even if there is no explicit theory underlying instances of practical participation (i.e. if these are based on non-scientifically based concepts of participation). Unavoidably, every account of the perceived function of CSO participation and what is accordingly expected from them (and by them), will have to include an account of the meaning this functioning has for the actors involved and so will have to take into account the central issue of framing, as so-called ‘facts’ never speak for themselves and are by implication embedded in perspectives and broader narratives, both from the point of view of the actors being studied and related to the impossibility of axiological neutrality of any scientific investigation.1
1 Cf. e.g.: Rorty, R. (1999). Philosophy and Social Hope. London: Penguin Books; Rorty, R. (1979). Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature. Princeton: Princeton University Press. See also T. Kuhn, P. Feyerabend and W.V. Quine.
D3.2 Analysis of Governance Theory and the Practice of Participation of
CSOs in Research Governance, final.docx
The development of syntheses, models and guidelines will be an iterative process. The starting point will be an assessment of the appropriateness and an identification of gaps and limits in current CSO governance theory as explored and elaborated in WP1, in the context of which the Analytical Grid can be seen as a diagnostic tool. In this regard, the characterisation of the case studies in line with the parameters of the Analytical Grid constitutes the basis for an appropriate diagnostic tool as well as a ground for model building. The model will involve critical variables identified in WP1 and use these to analyse the empirical results from WP2 (as indicated: insofar as they are available), with the aim of identifying matches and mismatches between theory and (CSO) participatory practice.
The critical variables are important parameters relevant to assessing CSO participation, i.e. those variables that are likely to form the basis of the assessment of the adequacy of current practices in light of the theoretical bases they are (explicitly or implicitly) founded upon: the selection of research topics; decision-making on research directions; the actual development of research and the extent to which CSOs are involved in different stages of the research project; the participation type (active involvement from an early stage onwards, consultation, providing expertise, etc.); the treatment and appreciation of knowledge gained through participation; content and focus of the consultation; form and organisational constellation of governance; the actual topic of the project concerned, etc. Parameters, in this regard, have two main functions: 1) to structure the problem, and 2) to serve as a means of analysis.
Therefore, while this deliverable will analyse theoretical and practical issues related to CSO participation in research governance, and in principle should provide a further refinement of the convergence of theoretical grounding and empirical data analysis, it also attempts to overcome approaches which reduce participation to mere auto-justification or a sort of alibi. As such, the fact that there is CSO participation in research governance, does not give the outcomes of the research process any legitimation, since it is crucial that attention is being paid to the meaning and the effectiveness of the participation (as perceived and enacted by the respective stakeholders). This implies that participatory practices should not be seen as a way to resolve a problem, but equally as a way to justify the problem and its resolution, which automatically raises the question of normativity and norms, and how this translates into parameters of analysis and the most crucial variables to be taken into account. For this reason, the deliverable will put a strong emphasis on the development of an adequate way to assess CSO participation in research design and research governance, in the perspective of which we aim to elaborate the necessity of a diagnostic tool. This diagnostic approach departs from the main limits and gaps in current governance approaches, in order to finally come up with a sound (both theoretically and empirically-based) methodological and analytical anchorage, which is required to develop models of governance of CSO involvement that indicate ways to overcome the problematic aspects and blockages in contemporary practice in this
D3.2 Analysis of Governance Theory and the Practice of Participation of
CSOs in Research Governance, final.docx
regard on a European level, and accordingly to come up with guidelines and policy recommendations that are pertinent and relevant for the research community, policy and decision-makers, CSOs and research funders (cf. Horizon 2020).
In different steps, in Deliverable 3.2 we will elaborate how, taking as a point of departure the core elements of the problematisation and taking into account the main analytical variables developed so far, we can gradually build a proper assessment and diagnostic tool that allows to detect limits, gaps and blind spots in current practices in order to overcome them and relate them to model building. At the same time, this deliverable is an attempt to bring in line and coherence the different disciplinary angles of the respective consortium members, as this seems crucial in order to be able to produce recommendations and policy guidelines that are based on a solid ground.
langue originaleAnglais
EditeurCommission of European Communities
Nombre de pages64
Etat de la publicationPublié - 4 févr. 2014

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