Bridging the divide

In September 2014, The Fletcher School was awarded a two-year grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York to develop strategies for bridging the academic-policy divide. Carnegie was attracted in part by the media and communications expertise of the Murrow Center and its role in the project of supporting the Institute for Human Security, which is leading the research substance.  The project is a multi-disciplinary examination of the role of government legitimacy in conflict-affected or fragile states.  The researchers look especially at how perceptions of legitimacy intersect with political inclusion, provision of basic services, security sector governance and corruption in the criminal justice sector.  They then recommend policies for donor governments and peacebuilding agencies to help the local governments build legitimacy.

Murrow’s role is on how to insure that the recommendations have impact on those policymakers and agencies. Among the other institutions collaborating on the project are the  World Peace Foundation and the Feinstein International Center at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts, the Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies in Geneva,  the Overseas Development Institute, and Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium.

Visit the IHS website to follow publications and multimedia from the project.  Below are four branches of the research.  You are welcome to devise and tell us your own proposals on how you would, one, reach and influence international donors and aid officials, and, two, use media to build internal government legitimacy in a fragile state.


The research and findings focus on four key areas:

Inclusion in Political Processes – Drawing on data from 40 cases around the world, research finds that more inclusive peace processes result in greater likelihood of an agreement being reached, that the agreement will be implemented and that it will hold in the following years.  The research also finds that parties involved in the conflict tend to initiate inclusion for strategic reasons, in an attempt to strengthen their legitimacy in the eyes of a variety of audiences – both internal and external.


Delivery of Basic Services – Based on a panel survey carried out in DRC, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Uganda, along with supporting qualitative work, research finds no linear or consistent relationship between provision of basic services and perceptions of legitimacy at local or central governance levels.  It also does not seem to matter who delivers services.  What matters for perceptions of legitimacy of governance is the quality of the services, the relations between citizens and those who provide services and the channels citizens have to press for better services.




Security Sector Governance/Reform – Drawing on research into African peace missions, including both political/mediation exercises and peace support operations, the study of security sector governance and reform (SSG/R) examines how state legitimacy has been contested and is reconstructed through political and military processes. These processes are both internal and external: our research challenges the preconception that armed conflicts in Africa are primarily internal, indicating that externally-driven processes of conflict resolution, peacekeeping and peace enforcement, and post-conflict SSR and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) result in the consolidation of new governance networks that are both domestic and external to the countries concerned.


Corruption in the Criminal Justice Sector – Based on research in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, this work identifies a mismatch between the strategies used to combat corruption and the nature of the problem itself. Anti-corruption efforts often fail to take account of drivers of corruption that are rooted in social norms and political dynamics.  Using a more holistic analysis of corruption dynamics and programming options, our research considers whether and how corruption’s effects on state legitimacy vary with the kind of corruption and source of demand, in order to develop more effective anti-corruption strategies and programs.