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From Theory to Practice

There is a significant gulf between decision-making knowledge and practice.  Cambridge Governance Labs is committed to bridging the gap.  We seek to distil insights and lessons from scholarly research and translate them into practical tools. 

Such tools will empower decision-makers to avoid common pitfalls and to achieve better decision-making outcomes. They will be delivered through pilot projects which utilitise existing networks that provide access to target audiences in Africa.

Our Strategy

Since good governance relies on the right balance of power between society and its leaders, Cambridge Governance Labs seeks to address both sides of the equation. 

Public servants are mandated by citizens to be responsible for the service delivery (the “supply side”) and citizens give voice to the demand side, shaping policy and holding their leaders accountable. Our objective is to equip citizens and leaders alike to make better decisions on matters that affect society. 

Young citizens are especially important in Africa by virtue of their numbers and often rapid progression into positions of authority.  Within a short time schoolchildren will choose their leaders at the ballot box and help to shape the national agenda.

Current Projects

1. Conflict Prevention and Dispute Resolution

We are partnering with the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) and their local chapters to design a support programme in Zambia in 2018 that will boost training and certification in mediation skills among legal professionals.  The programme will also widen the base of dispute resolution skills to those in other strategic sectors of society such as traditional authorities, faith community leaders and civil society organisations to extinguish the sparks of conflict at local community level before they escalate.

2. Cambridge Global Conversations

Cambridge Governance Labs is facilitating a series of discussions which bring experts, practitioners, thought leaders and opinion shapers of all ages around serious global threats.  The first in the series will address climate change and will take place in June 2018 at the University of Cambridge. Further details will be announced. 

3. Strengthening the Link between Data and Good Governance

Evidence-based decision-making is an essential underpinning of good governance, especially at a time when the lines between misrepresentation, spin, opinion and fact have become dangerously blurred. We are overseeing a collaborative enquiry into how governance-oriented data is sourced, validated, curated, disseminated and utilised. Doing so will help to (a) reframe questions in order to define the central issues that decision-makers need to focus on, and (b) reduce the impact of many negative influences (‘noise’) in the decision-making process by making reliable and relevant data more prominent (‘signal’). Enhancing the ‘signal-to-noise ratio’ is more empowering and cost-effective than grappling separately with each source of noise, and leaves decision-makers in the driver’s seat.

4. Young Citizens in South Africa

Some of the decision-making tools developed in the programme will be especially suitable for promoting economic and political literacy.  We will partner with Kairos Projects, who are working in South African schools to raise the level of awareness among young people about many of the challenges they will face. Modules developed at Cambridge Governance Labs will be integrated into their programmes which to date have reached over 40,000 schoolchildren.


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