Harvard University Program on Information Resources Policy
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Bullet Mission, Goals, and Strategies

        Our mission is to help policymakers, our Affiliates, and the public address changes in communications and information resources. Since 1973 we have worked with stakeholders to clarify what is at stake, how, for whom, and how to deal with it.

Twofold goals:

  • Substantively, we watch how the major blocks in the information and communications world are evolving and affecting one another as well as their effect on society as a whole: "the big picture." We work at the level of strategy and policy. We focus on conflict, controversy, and change. Our work is organized around issues, players, stakes, forces, trends, arenas of conflict, the rules of those arenas, and how those rules are changing.
  • Procedurally, we aspire to create knowledge that is both impartial and competent. We make that knowledge available to decisionmakers in whatever format and timing are congenial to them. We do not aim to provide the latest "news flash" but, instead, the context into which that news flash fits.


        We work principally with affiliating organizations which are the players that make things happen. They often conflict and compete. We call them Affiliates.

Our Affiliates:

  • Provide us with diversified financial support. We are under no financial pressure to support any "party line." Being bought by everyone, we are bought by no one. The result: We are in nobody’s pocket and have statistical stability.
  • Provide us with insights into what is happening in their realms. They review our working drafts and talk to us. The result: We know what’s going on.
  • Incorporate us into their thinking and planning. The result: Their decisions are better informed.

        We complete about a dozen publications a year. We work and think with research affiliates, whose writing is published in-house. Our publications are available to Affiliates and the public. In order to work closely with stakeholders that compete, we forego certain aspirations. We offer description and analysis—but not solutions. Specifically, we do not:

  • Take sides or endorse products, strategies, mergers, or legislation,
  • Predict the future—except when that prediction is very easy to defend, or
  • Offer "confidential" or "inside" information.

Some Assumptions

  • Decisions made with more information and better reasoning are, on balance, likely to be better decisions.
  • The world of information and communications is changing fast, permeated with confusing technology, laced with self-serving information and disinformation, and highly politicized. It is hard to tell what is really going on.
  • The stakes are high, both for the players and for society.
  • To make a good decision, you need two kinds of information:
    - What's going on out there?
    - What's going on in here?
  • The only people who know what's going on in their segment are the people doing it, but...
  • From inside a stakeholder organization, people can't see the whole picture. And...
  • They can't understand even their piece of the information and communications world except in the context of all the other pieces. Hence,

    Our role:
         Someone outside a stakeholder organization, such as ourselves, cannot know "what's going on in here." Therefore, it makes no sense for us to make proxy decisions. Our role is to help decisionmakers with information and analysis, "idea bounce," and "sanity check."

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