For social science research systems to reliably inform the pace and quality of development, significant reform is needed in several low- income countries around the world. This necessitates making an analysis of the success and limitations of current reforms, as well as understanding what accounts for successful national reform.
This paper examines the conditions for progressive change in the social science research environment in Niger. It finds that reform processes are constrained by the priorities of different groups of reformers, and by the generally low quality of demand for social science research. It also uncovers a number of positive dynamics in those processes, including the country’s commitment to durable changes instigated at the sub-regional level by a regional integration organization, the West African Economic and Monetary Union.
What are the necessary ingredients of a reform process? The study finds that the context of reform, the organization of indirect reform, the investment in social training and, finally, the establishment of interactive rapport all contribute to a successful reform process. Ultimately, a productive demand and supply relationship is the central engine driving improvement in any research environment. Transparency of institutional rules also matters, as well as the commitments at various levels (i.e university leadership, policy-makers, funders etc.).
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