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Dialogues between practice and science in public administration

Bruno Leonardo Barth Sobral, Doctor of Economic Development at IE/Unicamp. Professor at FCE/UERJ. Under Secretary at SEPLAG-RJ. Pro-Rio Network Coordinator

Daniel Matos CalderaPhD student in public administration at the University of Lisbon

Marcos Vinicius Azevedo BragaDoctor of Public Policy from UFRJ. Research fellow at the Institute for Collective Health Studies at UFRJ

Natalia Masako Koga, PhD in Political Science from the University of Westminster. Specialist in public policy and government administration. Researcher at IPEA and Professor at ENAP

Timstocles Murillo de Oliveira Jr., Doctor of Public Policy from UFRJ. Auditor of financial accounts and control of the General Controller of the Federation

In the world of 2022, it is necessary to reiterate insistently that science must be one of the central elements to guide political and technical decision-makers in public administration. Scientific knowledge, although it also has biases and ideological traits, has the potential to arm managers against trial-and-error decision-making processes, fads, conjecture, and dogmatism, opposing these processes with evidence-based elements.

This necessary revolution in the governments of the various federal levels in Brazil makes it possible to break out of the practice of mere adaptive actions of international directive prescriptions which, although promising in discourse, are not necessarily appropriate to our administrative culture and traditions. Without the supporting knowledge generation process, there is no strong public administration and, therefore, this weakens the management of public policies.

A scenario that points to the need to promote initiatives that break the gaps separating academia from the state bureaucracy. Partnership between managers and public policy makers with national research heads is a means of spurring the production of knowledge and making independent agendas, while professionalizing public administration in many ways, only complementing aspects of having an effective technical body.

Dialogue between practitioners and academics takes place through a two-way approximation process, as government action moves toward the academy, including by brandishing partnership possibilities involving public money. But the Academy is also moving in the direction of governmental action, breaking its isolation, insofar as it is included in the agendas set with the offer of criticism and deeds, as a form of contribution.

The problem of divergence presented may have taken a path of equality in the twenty-first century in Brazil, in a convergent phenomenon of the professionalization of public agents, with appreciation and greater potential for attracting talent, associated with the accompanying scenario of increased access to graduate studies. . This movement resulted in a scenario in which Number of federal civil servants holding master’s and doctoral degrees It has doubled in the past decade, in a movement also reflected in subnational domains.

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This increasing occupation of the bureaucracy in graduate banks in the past twenty years has had the effect of shaping and developing a segment of civil servants with spirit of researchers, included in universities, to produce knowledge about the public policies implemented by their bodies, which have the potential for synergy and which governments are still little aware of. Many public managers still see these initiatives as a means of individual reward or evasion of public officials from their obligations, and of not taking advantage of or demonstrating the capabilities and links these employees have acquired with initiatives that promote their use within public organizations to improve the work of the state.

Several forms of approximation and government action towards the Academy take place, in a classic way, through the granting of long-term training licenses for master’s and doctoral courses, but also through the establishment of scientific technical journals, training of advisory boards or committees with the expected participation of academic representatives, and creation of research mobilization units knowledge and innovation, and establishing specific communication channels to support information access demands from researchers and through public schools, to name a few.

Academic performance in the governmental sense occurs when research groups focus on emerging problems faced by government, when curricula are modified with incentives for students to seek involvement in practical issues in the public sphere, when academic awards and distinctions value the experience of projects in partnership with government, when journals encourage forms of communication Scientific that is more flexible to the requirements of practitioners, to name a few.

Interesting case studies occur when the state recruits top leaders directly from the ranks of academia, as is the case with the state government of Rio de Janeiro. This made it possible to build innovative solutions for the new tax refund scheme. Taking advantage of the potential to bring together academics and general managers, rather than succumbing to the assistance of consultants or international organizations, the initial resistance associated with the public nature of the federal framework into which it was introduced was overcome. Thus began to address the specificity of the problem in official documents, as well as its radical nature associated with the need for federal renegotiation and strengthening of the regional productive structure. A commitment to its long-term effectiveness and sustainability led to the unprecedented creation of the General Secretariat for Strategic Planning in the State Secretariat for Planning and Management, along with its groundbreaking decision to take responsibility for setting the strategic development agenda.

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In the case of Rio de Janeiro, transformative actions were not only taking place within the public machine. In parallel, it is also worth noting independent experiments, such as the emergence of the Pró-Rio network from the State University of Rio de Janeiro – UERJ. By bringing together research groups, class associations, and civil society entities, this out-of-government platform encourages greater participatory dialogue and critical freedom in promoting a strategic vision based on the circulation of alternative ideas. One example is the recent publication of the “Agenda of Proposals for the State of Rio de Janeiro” (available on their website).

At the federal level, contrary to what has been expected by the theory of two societies (Kaplan, 1979), which argues that academics and government experiment with logic and reward systems that limit the effectiveness of this approximation,

(Koga et., 2022), in many cases and policy contexts, an active posture and joint action among servers, managers, and researchers to produce applied knowledge, and a move toward the formation of expanded knowledge communities in which practitioners and academics participate.

In a special way, it is important to highlight institutions dedicated to building bridges between communities policy makers And scholars, the so-called knowledge brokers. The Brazilian Society of Public Administration (SBAP) is, par excellence, an association created as a mobilizing platform for communication between researchers and practitioners. Since its establishment in 2013, SBAP has carried out many activities to strengthen public administration as an independent discipline and to generate and disseminate theoretical and technical knowledge applied in the region. Among his works, the Brazilian Meeting of Public Administration (EBAP) stands out; search for partnerships with public bodies and entities; Participation in Quadrilateral Evaluations of Scientific Journals (Qualis/Capes); Editing of SBAP/ENAP publications and co-editing of special files for scientific journals; participation and representation in international events; In addition to institutional support for public sector initiatives.

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There are still (and will be) various challenges to the dialogue between practice and science in the field of public administration. Central to communication difficulties and the contradictions between the urgency of the surrender imposed on practice and the rigor required by science are among other components of the debate about this dialogue and its barriers (Bartunek & McKenzie, 2017).

Of the various challenges to approximation drawn from experiences such as that of the state of Rio de Janeiro and the studies promoted by Ipea, perhaps the greatest is in the interaction not only between academics and practitioners, but between them and society. How to improve the co-production of knowledge which, in addition to ensuring technical and scientific quality, recognizes the diversity of situations in the daily life of users of public services and policies, and which, in turn, is recognized as useful, coherent and also legitimate by society?

The path of mobilizing research knowledge for the daily lives of decision-makers, those responsible for implementing and evaluating public policies, and their users is more than just making scientific communication, as new knowledge is generated from this process of research. Interaction and, in this sense, paraphrase Mosher et al. (2014), the change occurs not only in the effective dissemination of research findings, but primarily in the participants themselves.

references

Bartonik, c. , and McKenzie, c. (2017). Review the status of the academic-practitioner relationship. In J. Bartunek and J. McKenzie (ed.). Academic-Practice Relationships: Developments, Complexities, and Opportunities. Routledge.

Kaplan, N.; (1979). Combined theory and the use of knowledge. American behavioral scientistAnd the 22(3), 459–470. https://doi.org/10.1177/000276427902200308

Koga, N, Balotti, B, Milo, J, & Pinero, M (2022). Public policies and uses of evidence in Brazil: concepts, methods, contexts, and practices. Ebia. http://repositorio.ipea.gov.br/handle/11058/11121

Mosher, J., Anucha, U., Appiach, H., & Levesque, S. (2014). From research to action: Four theories and their implications for knowledge mobilization. Scientific and Research CommunicationAnd the 5(3). https://doi.org/10.22230/src.2014v5n3a161

NB

* This article is the result of discussions held in October 2022, in a thematic group session and panel with the participation of the authors, within the scope of the 9th Brazilian Meeting of Public Administration (SBAP). Available in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6-pLoWOpn8