Academia and Public Policy: Towards the co-generation of knowledge and learning processes
Building from the context of ongoing debates around the changing roles of universities in society, this paper contributes to analysis of academia-society interface in two important respects. First, the paper considers the under-researched subset of relations that exist between academia and public policy. It is argued that academia-policy relations bear similarities to academia-market relations; like imperfect markets, policy environments tend to be characterised by concentrations of power. Thus similar concerns to those evident in debates around the commercialisation of university activity are relevant. Second, the paper explores the issue of balance in the role of the academic with regards public policy though an auto-reflective case analysis of an emerging experience in the Basque Country region of Spain. An aim is to reflect on the very fine (and frequently controversial) line between policy-oriented academic research and policy consultancy. The analysis highlights some of the benefits and issues with integrating action research principles into research projects, and suggests the significance of co-generation of knowledge and learning processes between academics and policy-makers. In turn this has specific implications for the time-horizon of relationships (long- rather than short-term) and for doctoral training (in research methodologies appropriate for such processes).
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