Harvard University Program on Information Resources Policy
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Bullet Affiliation

        The Program works by building long-term affiliations from which Program Affiliates and others gain strategic insight. Our authors create an inventory of knowledge. We deliver this knowledge to diverse constituencies—as driven by their own agendas. We distribute it by all practical means—from executive strategy sessions to public testimony, from publications to research affiliates.

Distribution of Research

What Do Affiliates of the Program Get?

  • An "open door": Affiliate representatives visit Program principals and staff in Cambridge, call us with questions when confronted by problems, and use the Program’s resources in any other way that makes sense.
  • An annual visit with Program principals for presentations on our latest findings and thoughts and for discussions on topics of mutual interest. Additional visits may be arranged at the Affiliate’s discretion.
  • A library of all Program publications deemed current and useful, including approximately 500 reports, books, drafts, and papers. On request, this library can be narrowed to studies most relevant to the Affiliate or even to only executive summaries.
  • Copies of publications as they appear. The Program completes about a dozen publications a year.
  • Invitations to all Program seminars. During the academic year, regular seminars open to Affiliates and the academic community feature speakers from information organizations. Occasional special seminars and workshops take place as determined by events and the interests of Affiliates. Affiliates are offered priority enrollment and discounted fees.
  • Opportunities:
    – to nominate visiting researchers to conduct studies of mutual interest to the Affiliate and the Program,
    – to propose topics for future Program research and analysis, and
    – to review and comment on all studies in draft form.
  • Fact-finding: Affiliates may use the Program’s internal capacity for research and fact-finding.

What Affiliation Is
      Affiliation with the Program on Information Resources Policy at Harvard University is participation in a neutral forum to explore what's going on with information resources. The Program's goal is usefulness to business, government, and the general public through intellectual independence and quality work. We are supported by more than one hundred Affiliates with diverse and conflicting stakes in information resources: users and providers of information products, facilities, and services; executive, legislative, and regulatory agencies in governments. We provide our Affiliates with an understanding of changing policy and economic environments and with exposition and analysis of their views in a nonadversarial public forum.

        The Program's research describes the stakes, the significant stakeholders, and the main issues of conflict, identifies the forces in action, marks the trends, and discusses strategies. All findings are made public. Many corporate Affiliates have stated that they use our work as a stimulus for their own strategic planning, for spotting opportunities, and avoiding potential pitfalls. Others have stated that a major return to the business community at large is the improvement of the policymaking process and of relations among business, government, and the public through impartial research and frank public discussion. Affiliates in the United States and throughout the world find the Program's prepublication review process an opportunity to make their points of view heard. They also find the Program to be a source of valuable information about the U.S. and worldwide policy environments.

        Affiliates provide the Program with data, insights, and advice necessary for complete and accurate research. And they provide the diversified financial support the Program needs to assure its independence. Most Affiliates make their contributions from an operating budget. They generally commit themselves to support the Program through contributions for a two-year period, following which they are better able to determine the value of the Program and their interest in increasing their support of it. Our goal is to build a meaningful long-term association from which both sides get value.

How Affiliation Works
   Our Program does research that builds knowledge for use when and where it’s needed. Available in any format that does not impair our independence, this knowledge is for use in planning, in understanding the environment, and so on.

        Many find our work valuable in areas that are new to them. Our work is useful also to executives wrestling with changes in the environment they’re already in. As a start, the Publications list suggests writings that may help and serves as a menu of areas in which we are knowledgeable. We can also help Affiliates with external relations. Many of our Affiliates use us as a forum where they can present their views of controversial issues. This is one way in which they can increase the likelihood of their views being presented by an impartial group, thereby acquiring visibility and credibility, a function we can perform equally for all Affiliates.

        Knowledge on paper always lags behind the knowledge in our heads. Further, this knowledge is not so well tailored to the particular needs of our Affiliates, who simply comprise too diverse a group for a good off-the-rack fit. Therefore, we strongly encourage other kinds of communication. We are glad to meet with the various people within affiliating organizations who might be able to use us. This usually includes top officers, strategic planners, support and staff people, and those in charge of government relations. These people often have different concerns and require separate meetings. We are more than happy to meet with them.

        We encourage formal or informal contact whenever there is something that needs to be said. Some examples:

  • When an Affiliate is examining a new area, it can be useful to check what we know about it.
  • When an Affiliate is formulating draft plans in old and new areas, we are more than happy to review them and point out what they look like from our outside and unique perspective.
  • When particular crises or "hot topics" break, we can be useful in helping to understand where they came from, who the players are, and what the forces and trends may be. We get a lot of frenzied phone calls from senior executives at such times and are happy to get more.
  • A number of Affiliates have sent people to work with us for anywhere from a week to a year. For the former, it’s usually a matter of filling their heads with something we know and they want to learn. For the latter, it’s usually to do research on a topic of mutual interest. The researcher returns to the home organization with both the knowledge and the contacts. Appropriate terms are negotiated for each case.
  • We’re more than happy to visit and make presentations to groups or meetings. We are often used this way by executive committees, boards of directors, planning groups, or ad hoc meetings attended by members of otherwise disparate departments.

        In any case, an initial get-together with a variety of people is the way we usually begin. From there, we try to build the communication patterns that best fit the Affiliate.

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