Research in ActionScience and Technology Information and Communication
PerspectivesSocial Policy Evaluation Information and Communication
IDRC awardeesNo relevant topics
ICT innovation needs solid relationshipsVictor OtekuResearch Awards2017
“It looks obvious,” says 2017 IDRC Research Award Recipient Victor Oteku, “but the importance of personal connections is very strong in establishing partnerships for technological innovation in Kenya.” Working in IDRC’s Regional Office for Sub-Saharan Africa, Oteku’s research sought to uncover socio-political and economic factors that shape partnerships for technological innovation in Kenya.
Oteku chose the information and communication technology sector for his study because of its high value to innovation and its contributions to growth in other sectors. The Kenyan government is also focusing on scientific and technological innovation in its long-term development plan, he says.
“Partnerships are mutual and synergetic collaborations geared toward a common goal,” says Oteku. The online survey he conducted showed that economic factors had the biggest influence on partnerships. Interviews and focus group discussions, however, “suggested that socio-cultural factors had a stronger influence.” Personal relationships, in particular, can determine success or failure. He concluded that all those involved need to work toward formal but open and flexible partnerships.
While a research awardee, Oteku also helped develop a proposal in support of the multi-funder Science Granting Councils Initiative in Sub-Saharan Africa. These councils are central to funding and catalyzing research and innovation.
Personally, “I nurtured the values of tolerance, cooperation, and hard work just by observing my colleagues do their jobs,” says Oteku. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to have been here.”
IDRC awardeesNo relevant topics
Relationships drive collaboration in South AsiaNatalia YangResearch Awards2017
What motivates researchers and funders to collaborate with different partners? “Although collaborations in research have been around for a while, there’s still a lack of understanding about what drives researchers to collaborate,” says Natalia Yang, 2017 IDRC Research Award Recipient.
She set out to discover those motivations among think tanks in South Asia. This region “provides a unique context because most countries within the region share similar challenges,” she says.
Yang found that the drive to collaborate depended on the role partners played in the organization. For example, researchers focused on what they were able to offer and gain from the collaboration — enhanced skills and access to new knowledge, for example, and stronger networks.
Principal investigators, coordinators, and funders were more concerned with how the collaboration contributed to obtaining and sharing knowledge, such as building a regional or international dialogue. Funders also saw collaboration as a way to attract other funders to a cause they believed in.
Overall, she says, she learned that “behind any research there is a human element that needs to be recognized and supported. Understanding collaboration in research is also about revealing the relationships at work behind anything we do.”
Yang values the experience she gained in research, including learning that “it’s better not to overthink the steps I have to do as a researcher. Often, the best thing to do is to just act and have the flexibility to adjust and adapt to new circumstances and research issues that did not come to light before.”