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The research-policy nexus in South Africa: Understanding the interface of science and policy in skills planning

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Corporate author/s:

Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET); Labour Market Intelligence Partnership (LMIP); Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

Person/s author/s:

Ranchod, Rushil


research report



This paper examines the formation and operation of this research-policy nexus in South Africa and the means by which evidence-based policymaking has been conceived and utilised in this space. The paper is divided into five sections. Section 1 discusses the analytical framework for understanding the research-policy nexus. The simplicity of conceptualisations of evidence-based policymaking gives way to the complex influences that shape and inform the development and use of evidence in policy. In Section 2, the paper highlights the architecture of the research intervention and of key drivers that led to the form and approach adopted in this approach to evidence-based policymaking. Section 3 discusses the methods utilised in this study. This paper is a reflexive undertaking, located within the research communications function of the larger research programme. Based on documentary analysis and qualitative interviews with key role players in the nexus, it provides an in-depth insight into the experiences of both parties, highlighting points of convergence as well as divergence. Section 4 interrogates understandings of evidence-based policymaking and problematises the roles and conceptions of evidence in the policy process. It then examines the experiences of researchers and government decision-makers working in the nexus. The research-policy nexus is a complex and active space, and clear distinctions are made between the roles and responsibilities of actors. However, the dynamism of this space complicates the distinctions that affect the nature and form of the nexus. Section 5 concludes by contending that this case of evidence-based policymaking and the nature and function of the research-policy nexus provide an important lesson in how to enhance future interactions and engagements in the use of evidence to support and improve policy formulation and implementation.

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