We are an academic project with a mandate to produce academic research. As such we work with scholars, graduate students and other researchers based at universities and related institutions around the world. We also see ourselves as scholar activists, collaborating with non-academic organizations in the design, planning, implementation and dissemination of research in an effort to build research capacity, enhance research relevance and advance progressive public policy.
Our research has involved nongovernmental organizations in a wide range of sectors and countries. Some are small and local while others are large and global in their orientation. These collaborations have been particularly effective in developing research agendas, assisting with research dissemination and expanding policy engagement.
Front line workers are very knowledgeable about public services but are seldom involved in research on the topic. We work with public sector unions and their members in the development and implementation of many of our projects, engaging workers and union organizers in the development of research and workshop activities, including union representation in the governance of the MSP.
Community organizations are well aware of the successes and failures of public services and can provide essential insights into the potential for progressive reforms. We work with large and small community groups in identifying and implementing research ideas as well as engaging with policy debates. We also aim to make our research findings accessible to community associations, including the production of popular outputs such as podcasts and videos in local languages.
Managers are critical to the daily operations of public services. Some can be obstacles to progressive reforms but many have been instrumental in pushing for change, fighting to create more transparent and equitable service delivery. We work with progressive public managers to better understand the potential for reform from within, examining the ways they share best practices internally and through their professional associations.
Many politicians have been elected with a mandate to reverse the commercialization of public services and to develop new ways of expanding and democratizing them. Some have introduced dramatic public service reforms, often in collaboration with other organizations. We critically examine these policy making dynamics and the conditions required for effective change.
Our research has been funded by more than a dozen organizations since our founding in 2000. The largest of these funders have been the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), but grants from other research agencies, as well as unions, NGOs, and local governments have been critical to our work.