‘Impact’ and ‘Impact Factor’: The dynamics of the
relationship between
Think Tanks and Universities in Pakistan
Project Team
Arif Naveed, Abid Suleri,
Zalla Khattak, Abdur Rab, Abrar Ahmad, Wajeeha Javaid
Organisation of the presentation
 Landscape of policy research in Pakistan
 Objectives of the study
 Methodology
 Key findings
 Patterns of relationship
 Key drivers of collaboration: Think Tanks
 Key drivers of collaboration: Universities
 Barriers to collaborate
 Case studies
 Funding implications
Landscape of the institutions of policy research 2013
 Clustered in Islamabad, Lahore and to some extent Karachi - complete
neglect of KP and Balochistan.
A virtual absence of public sector organisations and the institutions of
higher education from the landscape of policy research.
Numerous structural barriers to undertaking research and its uptake
Weak state of social sciences even after a decade and half of higher
education reforms: total research outputs increased 6 times from 2002
to 2012 but social science outputs increased only by 4.5%.
Funding and commissioning heavily dominated by the international
Donor funded short term research projects limit the prospects of the
long term capacity building.
Fragmented narratives not coherent with the core development
narrative of the country.
Objectives of the study
Broader objective is to understand;
 The patterns, drivers, consequences of the relationship between TTs and
 Ways in which both groups have developed mutually beneficial
 How does external support affect these relationships?
 Existing landscaping database of DFID-SDPI study – based on 70
institutions, policy makers and research commissioners – Aug-Dec
 In-depth individual interviews with heads of 17 major think tanks and
15 university departments in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi, during
Oct-Nov 2013
 Web based data gathering
 Case studies of various forms of collaboration in the process
Key findings: Patterns of relationships
 Overall minimal interaction
 Advisory and governing boards, panels, committees
 Formal institutional research collaboration are rare
 Informal, individualised and personalised engagements are common
 Most of the interaction takes place in dissemination and policy advocacy
 Universities supplying human resources albeit with questions on quality of
training and teaching
 Researchers, particularly mid-career ones engaged in teaching at universities
and occasionally in curricula development.
 Increasing engagement of ‘local university’ students in data collection in the
remote sites.
Think Tanks: Key drivers of collaboration with universities
 Tapping skilled human resource potential
 Methodological and theoretical rigor
 Increased chances of funding with academic CVs with the bids
 Legitimacy and credibility – architects and contractors
 Capacity building opportunities
 Increased chances of academic publications on joint projects
 Wide-spread presence of universities in contrast to the geographic
clustering of think tanks
 Increasing outreach and ‘visibility’
Universities: key drivers of collaboration
Collaboration with think tanks increases:
 Dissemination of personal research at a wider scale
 Influence over policy given TTs networking
 Access to research funds – particularly the international development
 Access to the appropriately qualified human resources as visiting
faculty members (low ranked universities particularly)
 Employment and internship opportunities for graduates/students
 Altruistic motivations
 Earnings through consulting
 Autonomy in the research process given bureaucratic structures at
Barriers to collaborations
 Distinct mandates, missions, visions, objectives
 Distinct organizational structures and public- private/non-government
Weak state of social sciences and poor research tradition at the
universities: political nature of policy change and policy research and a
depoliticised academe
Distinct nature of research - ‘Impact’ vs. the ‘Impact Factor’
Disciplinary analysis and ‘inter-disciplinarity’ of policy research
‘Architects’ and ‘contractors’ distinction
Distinct channels of funding
Case Studies
 Pakistan Institute of Development Economics: Convergence from
think tank to university
Mahbub-ul-Haq Human Development Centre: From independent
organization towards merger into Lahore University of Management
Sustainable Development Policy Institute: Collaborating with
universities widely on research, capacity building, and policy advocacy.
Aga Khan University – Institute for Educational Development:
Academically rigorous research influencing AKESP’s education
provision through 179 schools, mainly serving 37,500children from
disadvantaged , ,572 teachers
I-SAPS: Bringing academic and policy research together through peerreviewed Journal of Social and Policy Sciences.
Case Studies – some emerging trends
 Satellite institutional arrangements – ‘star’ academics and
researchers based at prestigious universities (usually
abroad),collaborating with each other to form research centre in
Pakistan, loosely organised around research programmes/projects,
winning large internationally competitive grants, designing
innovative research projects, producing high quality research and
working closely with the government.
 Lahore based Centre for Economic Research in Pakistan (CERP),
International Growth Centre (IGC), Institute of Development and
Economic Alternatives (IDEAS) are the key examples.
 Academics from the private universities in Lahore (mainly LUMS)
part of these alliances. The young researchers are often drawn from
these universities graduates pool.
Implications of funding arrangements
 Almost mutually exclusive sources of funding for universities and think
tanks: policy research largely funded by international donors
Funding through short term projects promotes short term behaviour,–
particularly in the absence of well networked epistemic communities.
Trends in funding priorities represent the changing priorities of the
international development agenda rather than of the national policy
needs affecting the interaction between think tanks and universities.
Funding alone is insufficient: Increased financial autonomy is likely to
strengthen the in house capacity rather than reliance on external
Need to address the structural barriers to create synergies between the
two groups of institutions

Impact Factor - Think Tank Initiative