K. S. Murali
Q: As a funder do you/your organisation prefer supporting projects that are backed by consortium partners?
Many development concerns are to be solved not by one specific sector partners such as practitioner or policy or research. Therefore, working with several partners in a consortium approach is always beneficial. While one partner concentrates on one aspect of the developmental problem, the other partners concentrate on the other concerns of the problem. Therefore, a given problem is viewed and researched holistically rather than a piece meal approach. Thus, the consortium approach provides a solution that can reach several clientele, whereas the single-grantee approach may look at the problem more specifically on one aspect of the solution. Thus, the current research problem will have an integrated approach while working on one developmental concern.
Q: In your opinion what are the advantages of organisations working in a consortium?
One of the most important administrative advantages of the consortium mode of operation is the funding process and monitoring process. Use of expertise from various organisations within the consortia will help boost the overall quality of research outputs. Synergic effects will be brought within the consortium while working on the same issues, but across several regions or themes. This helps in a cost-effective way of solving the problems of the same research question. This also helps to address the diversity of same or similar research questions and the plurality in finding solutions.
Q: As a funder, have you experienced any disadvantages of organisations working in a consortium?
One of the challenges of working in consortium is to agree or co-opt one organisation as a leader. It is difficult to find one member who is able to control or coordinate the other members within the consortium. Other challenges include harmony among the co-opting partners in the consortium. Another major challenge is the pace of delivery of outputs that each of the members achieves, both in terms of financial and technical deliverables. Harmony in approach, work cultural and ethics will be another challenge that might hinder the consortium process, provided it is a multi-country (more important if the members are from different continents) operational project.
Q: Could you share one success story/case study where the work of a consortium was useful in a policy making process?
There is no success yet, but CARIAA is pursuing to influence policy process through a consortium of consortia in a country. For instance, in India, we have three consortia working on the concerns of climate change on livelihoods and working towards adaptation to such changes. We have formed a country engagement group that invests in reaching various people on some common messages including policy advocacy. A plan is also to work with the think tanks in the country to help influence the policy on climate change adaptation. Soon we shall start consultations and make inroads into the policy circles in India and spread the messages that help the community at large on developing resilience to the impending impacts of climate change.