Dialogue-based structures – a prerequisite for research that is aligned to policy making and practice

Hubert Ertl

Dear readers,

In its Strategy 2025, BIBB has reconfirmed a commitment to the dictum that “communication between policy making, academic research and practice” should form an essential point of guidance for the multi-layered work conducted by the institute. This means that, in our role as a facilitator, we will offer a forum in which networking between these three areas can take place. The requirements and rationales of the various stakeholders will also continue to inform our own work. This becomes tangible in the BIBB committees, which provide a home for exactly this kind of networking between research, policy and practice.

Development, implementation and transfer via dialogue

BIBB’s committee structure enables policy making and practice to be integrated into the development of research activities. This ensures that the requirements and issues faced within these two areas are included in the design concept of research projects and academic research services. At this part of the process, it is not uncommon for areas of conflict to emerge in respect of the ideas which parties deem to be relevant. Dialogue is then the only pathway via which solutions can be identified. Project councils provide a vehicle via which this productive networking carried on during the implementation phase. Investigations and interpretation of data, which are driven by academic research criteria, are thus scrutinised on an ongoing basis to confirm relevance and plausibility. Finally, this dialogue also makes a major contribution towards the adoption and acceptance of research results in the areas of policy making and practice. Transfer is often precisely the point at which impetuses for new research projects originate. Given such a positioning and role, it is entirely apposite that BIBB should dedicate an issue of BWP to the topic of dialogue between research and policy making and practice whilst also taking the opportunity to focus on activities beyond our walls. The articles presented here provide a range of insights into active and effective communication between the fields of academic research, policy, practice. They are moored to topics currently attracting the attention of vocational education and research, including migration and integration, the digital shift, curriculum development for generalist nursing training, tertiary education and training for trainers.

Challenges for shaping dialogue

A synoptic view reveals that transfer processes vary because the nature of problem situations, statutory stipulations and the structure of stakeholders and target groups also all differ. At the same time, however, it is also possible to identify a series of cross-cutting challenges. Consultation processes between stakeholders are, for example, becoming increasingly complex all the time. This is frequently accompanied by growing time pressures in respect of implementation of new ideas within the area of policy and practice. This is problematic if the credo which is followed states that effective communication requires stakeholders to embrace the logic of partners in the respective other area. The development of such a prerequisite frequently takes time. This issue also contains three articles that cast light on relevant issues in in the Swiss context. A comparison shows how national circumstances may exert an influence on transfer processes. However, the similarities of the problem statements in the two contexts predominate in overall terms. This once again indicates the importance of having overarching criteria in place for the shaping of communication between academic research, policy and practice. Together with its partners, BIBB will continue its endeavours to secure and to develop these benchmarks further.

Prof. Dr., Director of Research and Vice President of BIBB

Translation from the German original (published in BWP 6/2018): Martin Kelsey, GlobalSprachTeam, Berlin