A little less conversation, a little more action

Blog by Mariana Mazzucato, Rainer Kattel and Rowan Conway: “The risk with any new economic movement is that it remains closed within the confines of high level academic and conceptual debates — which sadly then forms part of the “blah blah blah” rather than moving policy practice forward. At IIPP, we never wanted to advocate for policy from an Ivory tower. From the day we started, we got our hands dirty and worked with policymakers in practice to co-design new tools and frameworks for inclusive, healthy and sustainable growth. While bold economics research is crucial, the work ‘on the ground’ with public organisations is equally critical in order to change public policy practice and so we have been exploring practical ways to translate this new economic thinking into policy change at the place or institutional level.

This has included a wide range of deep dives that ultimately led to the Mission-Oriented Horizon 2020 programme and policy guidance for the EU. This guidance then unlocked funding for research and innovation across members states, the MOIIS commission that drove challenge-oriented innovation and industrial strategy into UK government, and our work with the Scottish Government that helped to develop and launch a new mission-oriented national bank (Scottish National Investment Bank). Since then, we have worked on more deep dives with our growing MOIN network and other policy-making bodies — at a city level in Camden in London and Biscay region of Spain, in national and regional governments in British Columbia, CanadaSouth Africa, Denmark, New Zealand and Sweden — as well as with key public institutions such as the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the BBC where we developed an evaluation framework to measure dynamic public value.

Practice-based theorising in action

These deep dives are not simply standard academic or think tank round tables — they are what we call “practice-based theorising”. This means taking insights from pioneering research, enabling co-creation and setting a route to implementation when it comes to policy, and by using participatory research, engagement and design processes to bridge the gap between theory and practice. It is this collaborative work with policymakers that makes IIPP different. Through practice-based theorising our researchers bring new theories to policymakers, not just offering a theoretical stance but engaging, experimenting and evolving these concepts in practice. Through deep dives we have learned a great deal from practice and these lessons then feed back into the theory itself, and ultimately into what we teach through our Masters in Public Administration.

Practice-based theorising takes artful engagement of cross-disciplinary actors in multiple sectors and places. Using dynamic research methods, participatory co-design workshops and rapid prototyping, we learn from the places we work in and translate IIPP’s key economic theories into testable policy innovations. We also teach our MPA students many of the participatory design processes we deploy via our MPA module called “Transformation by Design” which acts as the connecting tissue between the taught course and the placement semester within our policymaking network organisations….(More)”