Step 2: Identifying sources of research

The main rule of thumb for an EO when it comes to research is "Do not reinvent the wheel". Existing research can be accessed and utilized to make arguments effectively. There are a number of channels through which to pursue this.

2.1 Government

Policy-making requires information about prior governmental action. If legislation or regulation already exists, then it is likely that the government itself can be a good source of basic information. Areas to draw from include:

  • Statistical data from the Central Statistics Offices;
  • government agency reports;
  • transcripts of parliamentary proceedings;
  • Minister of Finance budgets' speeches;
  • commissioned scientific research;
  • public testimony;
  • advice of expert consultants and lobbyists.

The current growth national strategies (e.g., an existing national development plan) will provide a range of broader information and, more importantly, the policy direction the government is taking. It can provide useful information on the external factors explaining the country's growth and poverty reduction pattern, the overall productivity dynamics in the country, the major challenges and opportunities, and the possibilities for economic transformation and diversification. This is a vital document.

Previous growth strategies (previous national plans, major government policy announcements) similarly need to be analysed to see where the EO's issue(s) fit in – what was promised, what was delivered and/or what was not.

The current national development plan (or equivalent statement of government policy priorities) should be the starting point and should give the EO an overall view on the direction the government wants to take regarding the national economy.

The Minister of Finance budgets' speeches will additionally provide crucial information on current spending plans. (Not included here is an analysis of budgetary procedures. This is covered in part 1. Section 1.2 Assessment Tool 6: Assessing the budgetary process).

2.2 Other stakeholders

The first and most likely resource for the EO will be other businesses, trade associations, and research institutions that work on private sector issues.

However, there are many other sources of research and these do not necessarily need to be potential supporters. NGOs, trade unions, consumer groups, and the media may be interested in the EO's issue (even if they have different ideas!). Is it possible to source information from them? This could also provide information on what likely arguments against the EO's position may look like.

In particular, source information from the interest group that advocated for the original policy/regulation. This will be useful in analysing whether the arguments they used to advance the proposal stood the test of time and whether they actually came to fruition.

2.3 Development agencies and donors

Utilizing international indicators which often measure performance in a comparative manner will also be helpful in the diagnostic analysis. These indicators while incomplete and not without fault, are important mechanisms in triggering a 'policy conversation', while also contributing evidence to diagnostic efforts. There is also a comprehensive array of data across policy issues which would be beyond the reach of an EO (see Annex).

2.4 Using the Information

Below is an example of how the abovementioned resources can be distilled into a manageable analysis. A SWOT approach is used where the EO examines "strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats" in the government's medium-term planning. From this it can then map its issues in terms of commitments. The example below utilizes 2009 data from Kenya.

EO SWOT BOX: KENYASource(1)
Strengths
  • Monetary policy reserve money remains within targets and interest rates remain stable.
  • Wholesale, retail trade, transport and construction recorded positive growth during 2009 despite the global downturn.
World Bank Country Brief 2009
Weaknesses
  • Despite the critical role played by the informal sector and particularly Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) in promoting employment creation, the sector continues to face traditional challenges such as low productivity and limited technological transfer.
  • Labour Market Skills and Information: Kenya faces a number of challenges in aligning the planning and development of its human resources to its developmental needs. The country’s labour market is still characterized by co-existence of trained unemployed manpower together with skill shortages in some areas of the market.
First Medium Term Plan (2008 2012) http://www.planning.go.ke/index.php
 
  • Reforms are needed to make business start ups easier (ranked 95 out of 183 economies globally by the World Bank); Starting a business, enforcing contracts, and trading across borders are particularly inhibiting.
World Bank-IFC Doing Business
Opportunities Govt has committed to:
  • Realize a higher and sustainable growth of the economy in a more equitable environment, accompanied by increased employment opportunities.
  • Government will scale up funding for youth and female enterprises.
  • Specialized training for entrepreneurship.
  • Develop an Integrated Human Resource Strategy.
  • Develop the Diaspora and Labour export policy.
  • Formulate and implement the Wages and Incomes Policy (review of the 16 wage regulation orders).
  • Develop a Productivity Policy.
  • Implementation of Employment Policy and Strategy for Kenya, including the establishment of a 24-hour economy.
  • Formulate and enact the MSE Act.
  • Create framework for linkages between industry, education, training, and research institutions.
  • Harmonize statutes and mandates of public sector wage review bodies.
  • Develop labour colleges to offer Diploma and Degree programmes on Labour and Employment.
  • Establish the National Council for Small Enterprise.
  • Scope to more effectively represent policy interests of the SME Sector: Kenya’s business environment is characterized by a large number of Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs), which account for roughly 75 per cent of total employment and an estimated 18 per cent of GDP.
  • EOs could garner international support for such action (the improvement of Business environment productivity and the competitiveness of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs)), and UNDAF country programme outcomes by 2013.
First Medium Term Plan (2008 - 2012)
 
  • Scope to more effectively represent policy interests of the SME Sector: Kenya’s business environment is characterized by a large number of Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs), which account for roughly 75 per cent of total employment and an estimated 18 per cent of GDP.
  • EOs could garner international support for such action (the improvement of Business environment productivity and the competitiveness of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs)), and UNDAF country programme outcomes by 2013.
UNDAF 2009-2013
Threats
  • There are pressures on the current accounts due to weak exports, remittances, and tourism.
  • Lower investor confidence due to prolonged differences within the grand coalition.
World Bank Country Brief 2009

(1) Resources: PRSPs: http://www.imf.org/external/np/prsp/prsp.asp; UNDAF: http://www.undg.org/unct.cfm?module=CountryTeams&page=Region&RegionID=RAF; Kenya: National Plan http://www.planning.go.ke/index.php; World Bank-IFC: www.doingbusiness.org; World Bank: Country reports http://web.worldbank.org/.../theSitePK:136917,00.html