The development of consultancies in South Africa

Posted in conference 

Authors

Linda Richter and Julia de Kadt

Abstract

Although attractive because of its immediate relevance to real-world challenges, problem-oriented research has raised concerns about the empirical validity, conceptualstrength and political susceptibility of its findings. Governments, intergovernmentalorganizations, aid agencies and donor groups insist increasingly on its use in shapingand evaluating development practice and policy. These growing demands for researchare more and more often being met by independent consultants.

Assumptions

Social science has witnessed a surge in problem- oriented, context-specific and transdisciplinary research. Although this form of research is attractive because of its immediate relevance to real-world challenges and complex contemporary social problems, concerns have been raised about the empirical validity, conceptual strength and political susceptibility of its findings. Nonetheless, the popularization of this form of knowledge production has encouraged governments, intergovernmental organiza- tions, aid agencies and donor groups, among others, to insist increasingly on its use in shaping and evaluating development practice and policy. These growing demands for research are increasingly being met by independent consultants.

Conclusions

While the work of consultants helped bring children and AIDS into the public view, generating widespread interest and support, it also led to the acceptance of underdeveloped ideas and data, and caused resistance to change in response to new evidence.

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