ESRC investment in What Works Centres (PDF)
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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.