A Gap Exists in Research and Implementation
Institutional Learning, Political Institutions

A Gap Exists! (But it is Smaller and More Specific Than You Think)

Author(s): Lindsay Heger, Chris Cyr
Date: November 7, 2014
Publication Type: Discussion Paper
Keywords:

Overview:

In recent decades, many who are involved in international relations and foreign policy have bemoaned the increasing divide between what practitioners do and the issues scholars research. Accusations from both sides have detailed what appear to be entrenched institutional cultures with few possibilities for change. The bridge linking these two communities appears to be broken. Despite myriad attacks, evidence on either side of the divide is desperately lacking. In this report we present a preliminary analysis of original data intended to shed light on the extent and type of gaps between scholars and different types of practitioners. Our examination reveals that the practitioners are, in fact, consuming research and scholarly material. This is consistent for all types of practitioner organizations including non-governmental organizations, intergovernmental organizations, governmental institutions, and business associations. However, a preliminary analysis of scholarly behavior reveals a very different trend whereby scholarly work seems much more isolated to scholarly circles. Thus, we conclude that a one-way bridge is a more accurate characterization of the connection between the practitioner and scholarly communities.

Key Findings:

This report provides some preliminary analysis on the extent of any gap between practitioners and scholars, an area with little evidence from either community.  The analysis reveals that

  • Practitioners, including non-governmental organizations, intergovernmental organizations, and business associations, are consuming research and scholarly material.
  • Scholars refer to each other's work but not as much to the work of practitioners.
  • In order to promote empirically informed policymaking, both sides should contribute more to healthy exchange, with academics having perhaps a little farther to go.

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