Bridging the macro-micro divide in policy-oriented research: two African experiences

There is a recognised tension between the development practitioner's need for timely intelligence on key topics, and the normal routines of academic development studies. Closing that gap involves, amongst other things, elaborating new ways of organising and doing research. This article, by an academic, is concerned especially with how to combine interactive rapid-appraisal methods with inputs from more conventional styles of research in ways that bridge the `macro-micro' divide; that is, shed light on national policy trends by exploring community and household responses. It describes two pieces of team research carried out in Tanzania and Zambia at the instigation of the Swedish official agency, SIDA.