Friday, 15 January 2016

Interview - Carlos Gustavo Machiado

Carlos Gustavo Machicado
Executive Director,  INESAD

Q: What is your understanding of policy impact?

Policy impact means that the research that a Think Tank performs guides some of the policy decisions that the national or local government take. If a Think Tank is specialised in economic issues, of course the impact has to be in the decisions that the government takes in the economic area. An illustrative way of thinking about policy impact is that the outputs of a Think Tank are used as inputs for the government's decisions or actions.

Q: As a Head of a Think Tank, what do you think could be the parameters?

The most difficult thing is to measure impact because the parameters can certainly be very different according to the policy. I can think of the following parameters:
  1. The researcher or researchers who have conducted a research are invited by a public authority to present the results and policy implications of the paper or working paper.
  2. The conclusions or recommendations of the paper or working paper have been used as arguments for policy decision.
  3. It is possible to identify the same words used in the paper or working paper in the official publications (from the government).
  4. After concluding a research project, the researcher(s) are invited by the government as a consultant or are invited to improve the research according to the government's needs. It can also be that the government funds the new or the extension of a research.

Q: What are the innovative examples you have observed in institutions making policy impact?

At INESAD, we are using games to guide some policy decisions. We cannot affirm yet that these games are impacting the government's decisions, but at least it seems that they are explaining in an easy way, how people interact in different situations. The games that we are implementing try to explain how people interact in labour markets, but games can be used in all other type of markets and areas.

Q: What are the latent opportunities you see in how institutions could make policy impact?

For Think Tanks that are specialised in economic issues, as it is in the case of INESAD, it is clear that governments would be open for suggestions in times where the economic situation of the country is turning complicated and in times where policy decisions will be associated with important costs for the society. It is clear that this is the situation or will be the situation for most Latin American countries in the next years. Governments of Latin American countries will face several trade-offs from which they will have to choose. So, I think there will be many opportunities for Think Tanks in the next few years.

Q: Do you have any thoughts on the nature of environment that makes it conducive for institutions/organisations to effect policy impact?

Certainly, it is important that governments are open to the academy and to institutions like Think Tanks that provide evidence-based researches on data and models. Unfortunately, this is not the case in some countries (for example Bolivia), so it is very difficult to effect policy impact. In addition, the public servants that take the policy decisions are not well-educated, so they just don´t believe in research as a guide for taking decisions, and therefore take decisions based on their intuition, and that is really a problem for Think Tanks that have as their main objective to provide suggestions that impact policy decisions.

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