Corporate report

ESRC investment in What Works Centres

Economics Social Research Council (ESRC) commissioned evaluation by Frontiers Economics of ESRC’s investment of the What Works Centres (WWCs).

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ESRC
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ESRC investment in What Works Centres (PDF)

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Details

Completed in 2021, ESRC commissioned Frontier Economics to evaluate its What Works investments.

The report highlights that successful centres:

  • set an ambitious question
  • appoint the right kind of leader
  • ensure a suitable range of voices in the governance
  • ensure academic involvement that provides good knowledge of the evidence base, good connections, the ability to translate evidence in a way that supports policy makers and are well positioned to communicate and promote evidence.

The report also highlighted:

  • the importance of ESRC investment in catalysing funding from co-funders who might not otherwise have invested
  • the need to manage tensions between academic rigour and policy need
  • the challenges presented by policy implementation. Several WWCs acknowledged the difficulties in turning evidence into action or impact in their respective policy areas
  • the importance of setting a clear baseline and providing a shared articulation by funders of success criteria to enable effective evaluation and learning.

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