ANZSOG working to improve research and education impact on public sector practice

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  • Published Date: 28 October 2021

ANZSOG is working to connect academics and governments to improve how we measure and demonstrate the impact of research and education on public sector practice. This work began in 2019 with a workshop held at the Australian National University (ANU) with the ANU’s Crawford School of Public Policy, the Public Service Research Group at the University of New South Wales Canberra, and the Analysis & Policy Observatory (APO).

The workshop brought together different sectors with invited participants from across government, universities, and the community sector to explore different understandings, expectations, and methods for collectively demonstrating and achieving impact into practice across sectors.

Following the workshop, a call for papers was issued with a focus on ways to advance impact into practice across sectors, rather than siloed within. A high volume of manuscripts was received which resulted in two separate research developments. One was a special issue in the journal Policy, Design and Practice titled Impact into practice: Demonstrating applied public administration and policy improvement which focuses on impact as a system, the second a recently published symposium of articles in the Australian Journal of Public Administration focused on the theme of implementation for impact.

The AJPA symposium includes an introductory article by ANZSOG’s Lisa Carson and Catherine Althaus, Helen Sullivan and Brigid van Wanrooy, on the theme of ‘Implementation for impact – Measurement, partnership approaches, and storytelling

It provides an overview and synthesis of key themes canvassed in the symposium papers related to implementation, and states that:

“Three key interconnected and emergent themes collectively symbolise the centrality of working relationally to achieve better outcomes for citizens and society at large: measurement; partnership approaches; and storytelling.

“Taken together the articles in this symposium all provide practical insights about how impact can be understood, generated, and translated to practice. Each represents new ways of thinking about implementation and impact in the way that we work, in what we document and how, and the stories we tell about what it takes to achieve impact into policy and public administration practice.

“What remains clear overall is that ways of working relationally across all levels of analysis and domains are necessary to enable greater impact success and long-term positive outcomes for communities.”

ANZSOG will continue to work in this space and encourage debate around how we can better measure the impact of education and research on public sector practice, and bridge the divide between theory and practice.