CORD Background

Collaboration for Research on Democracy (CORD): Building a network on citizen participation, development and democracy in the Global South

Why Create Such a Research Network?

Over the last two decades, the idea that citizen engagement and action can contribute to improved governance and pro-poor development outcomes has become an accepted part of the policy discourse. Pro-poor social change as a result of citizens’ struggles against durable inequalities and through new democracy-building strategies are increasingly evident in both transitional and already democratized countries. Yet there is still a great need to better understand how these citizen-centric strategies work and how we actually assess the wider democratic impact and developmental outcomes of citizen-initiated social mobilization.

Previous research networks, such as the Development Research Centre on Citizenship, Participation and Accountability (CDRC[1]), have shown that future research needs to focus on the quality and direction of the differences that citizen participation can make, and how they are attained. Often this type of research is best conducted in larger, multi-country research networks, which bring together researchers and practitioners from different contexts. These types of multi-context collaborations can go beyond merely sharing best practices to developing a deeper and more complex understanding of the conditions under which successful pro-poor democratic mobilizations and social arrangements work across different contexts.

The CDRC has now ended its work after ten years. Many of its affiliated researchers, practitioners, and policy-makers have expressed an interest in continuing their collaboration through a new South-South network – the Collaboration for Research on Democracy (CORD) which aims to provide the platform for this new Southern-led network. CORD aims to provide a unique platform for researchers, practitioners and policy-makers to build a policy-relevant research agenda on the new challenges and development landscape of democratisation. Many of CORD’s collaborators and participants have deep experience in working in different arenas – policy, research and advocacy – and have also accumulated deep methodological knowledge on policy-relevant comparative research.

The proposed collaboration focuses on the intersections between research and policy-making. It aims to achieve:

  1. The generation of new knowledge across contexts
  2. The dissemination of new knowledge widely to decision-makers and practitioners
  3. Deepened capacity of Southern partners to carry out high quality research, communication and policy engagement, and
  4. The fostering of dynamic engagement between researchers, practitioners and policy-makers.