Research networks are a signature MacArthur “way of working.” They are designed to identify a big problem and bring together researchers, practitioners, and policymakers from multiple disciplines to work collaboratively over an extended period of time, typically six to as many as ten years. Ambitious and innovative −but not prescriptive−research networks liberate their members to pursue work that has the potential to change prevailing paradigms.
Unlike project support or institutional operating support, research networks create a more open space for ideation and collaboration, with the goal of breaking new ground on big, timely challenges. Intensive preparatory activities to frame research network inquiries, identify network members, and vet initial and renewal network proposals with outside experts increase the potential for research networks not only to make distinctive conceptual contributions, but also to have real-world relevance and impact.
Convened and organized by the GovLab, and made possible by five years of funding support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Opening Governance works to develop the blueprints for more effective and legitimate democratic institutions to the end of improving people’s lives. A core group of twelve members is complemented by an advisory network of academics, technologists, and current and former government officials. Through both face-to-face and online collaboration, the Network is focused on assessing existing innovations in governing and experimenting with new practices and, eventually new norms, for how our institutions make decisions at the local, national, and international level.