PERFORM project held its final event on December 18, 2018 at the Aeroklub hall in Belgrade, presenting the results achieved over the past four years in close collaboration with its partners.
Project Manager, Dr Martin Dietz reflected on the wonderful cooperation PERFORM has had with its many partners, working together on identifying the most urgent problems that social science research faces today and finding the most effective solutions.
“PERFORM very successfully facilitated the link between social sciences and different domains of society, including policy institutions. Evidence-informed policy-making is today a term more commonly used in discussions and an expanding practice, and PERFORM has contributed significantly to that”, said Dr Dietz.
After four years of supporting the social science research communities in Serbia and Albania, the project will end its mandate on 31 December 2018. Ms Ursula Läubli, Director of the Swiss Cooperation Office, said that the project contributed to strengthening the social science research system by increasing capacities of researchers at universities and institutes to provide high quality research.
In order to summarise its results and provide key lessons that could inform the programming of similar projects, PERFORM engaged an expert to work together with the PERFORM team and produce a paper on the changes achieved by ten initiatives under the PERFORM project.
The paper draws from ten stories of change written by the PERFORM team, each of which describes the changes to which PERFORM initiatives have contributed across the three outcome areas of the project: strengthened social science community; systemic linkages to political reform processes, civil society organisations, private sector and media; and favourable frame conditions and financial mechanisms.
The stories of change initiatives describe pilots and experiments that PERFORM has undertaken to address certain key barriers to stronger social science research systems in Albania and Serbia: low investments in the system; low volume and quality of social science research production; limited interaction between policy-makers and social science researchers; and an inadequate enabling environment.
Dr Arnaldo Pellini, a development economist with a specialisation in the use of knowledge to inform policy decisions and adaptive development, presented the highlights of the report, saying that building the capacity of actors to demand, produce, and use research-based evidence addresses only some of the problems that exist in the social science systems in Albania and Serbia.
“PERFORM has looked beyond capacity-building at the importance of creating coalitions and networks to produce changes in the system. Perhaps the two most important lessons to be taken from PERFORM are a) the need to design an approach that brings researchers together in a politically-informed way to explore and look below the surface of a problem, and b) the need to encourage local ownership for testing solutions without imposing solutions from elsewhere.”