Examining the Management Processes and Practices of Health Research Capacity Strengthening Consortia

Tagoe, Nadia Naa Dedei (2021). Examining the Management Processes and Practices of Health Research Capacity Strengthening Consortia. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.00012985

Abstract

Health research plays a critical role in the development of low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Accordingly, global efforts to strengthen health research capacity in LMICs have intensified in the past few decades, increasingly through consortia. Reports on health research capacity strengthening (HRCS) consortia have primarily focused on programme outputs and outcomes. Implementation processes and their implications for consortia goals have rarely been studied in depth.

In this thesis, I examined how management processes and practices used by LMIC-led HRCS consortia influence the realization of broader research capacity outcomes. In the exploratory phase of the study, I used a qualitative approach to identify consortium management processes and factors influencing these processes. This was followed by a multiple case study design in which I examined in more depth the decision-making considerations in consortium management, factors that influenced consortia’s strategy choices, and how those strategies enabled or hindered capacity strengthening.

Similar management structures and processes were used by the consortia studied, but consortia adopted different strategies in executing management processes. The findings demonstrate that decision-making in consortium management can be highly complex, as it involves tensions between compelling alternatives. Resulting trade-offs do not always align with capacity strengthening principles. Perceptions of research capacity and its strengthening, funder expectations, and both perceived and stated programme success indicators significantly influenced management decisions. Although consortium management processes are capacity strengthening mechanisms in their own right, this was not fully appreciated, planned for, or leveraged in the consortia studied.

Drawing on these findings, I have presented a conceptual framework which lays out factors to consider in determining consortium management strategies that promote capacity strengthening. Considering the increasing investment in HRCS consortia, highlighting how consortium processes influence capacity strengthening is instructive for enhancing policy and practice, and optimizing returns on HRCS investments.

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