What can we do for the public sector?

We undertake research for and research of policy. With the LMPG Group of the Department of Labour we developed a case-study based research methodology that provided rich data and insight for analysts and industry/firms/individuals.

We have also designed, tested and refined a developmental research methodology that enables policy and regulatory agencies to engage with the people, organisations or industries of interest to them in a way that enables the two parties to co-design the policy or regulatory artefact or action. This very sophisticated and innovative instrument is termed the Co-design Laboratory.

We also undertake evaluations of policy and policy or operational programmes. We evaluate the effectiveness of agency engagement and activity.

  • Research for policy and operations
  • Evaluation of policy and programmes
  • Connect policy and practice
  • Case-study based methods for policy and operations

Research for public policy development and evaluation 

Employment Contracts Act 2000. Case Study Research in the Accommodation, Wine Making and Brewing Industries (1999).  Evaluation of the impacts of the Employment Contracts Act 2000 carried out with the Labour Market Policy Group of the Department of Labour (DoL), and Richard Bird. http://www.dol.govt.nz/PDFs/op1999-4.pdf 

Accident Insurance Act, 1998 (2000-2002).  The ACC case study research project (1999-2001).  A three-year evaluation, led by DoL, which examined how firms responded to the 2000 Injury and Accident Prevention Act, and the reasons for that response.  Carried out with Bob Williams.

Health and Safety in Employment Act, 1992 (2001-2002).  The Department of Labour (OSH) commissioned WEB Research to work with OSH and the Ministry of Economic Development to conduct qualitative research on the topic, involving 21 case studies of manufacturers.  With Richard Bird.  A copy of the report, The Costs and Benefits of Complying with the HSE Act 1992 2001-2002, can be found at:
http://www.dol.govt.nz/PDFs/OP2001-4.pdf 

Social costs of occupational injury and illness (2000-2001).
Aftermath: How the Lives of Fifteen Ordinary New Zealanders Have Been Affected by Workplace Injury and Illness 2000-2001.  WEB Research was involved in this OSH-led research project investigating the social and economic consequences of workplace injury and illness. The case histories featured in the report can be found at: http://www.dol.govt.nz/PDFs/Aftermath.pdf 

Employment Relations Act, 2000 (2002).  WEB Research participated in an LMPG-led Evaluation of the Short-Term Impacts of the Employment Relations Act 2000.  WEB Research undertook 20 of the 51 cases collaboratively with DOL.  The full report of the lead study, The Effects of Employment Regulation case study research (1999-2000), can be found at: http://www.dol.govt.nz/PDFs/ERA%20Evaluation.pdf 

Precarious Employment (2002-2004).  Exploratory Case Study Research into Precarious Employment 2002-2004.  LMPG commissioned WEB Research to collaborate on qualitative research that aimed to better understand the practices, behaviours and values of employees in non-standard forms of work. The 17 case studies focused on individuals working in large firms in the cleaning, financial/call center, fish processing and labour hire/construction industries.  The full report can be found at: http://www.dol.govt.nz/pdfs/precarious-employment.pdf 

The Pure Business Project (2003-2006). A highly experimental approach designed to transform relations between government and business by addressing their habitual, but contradictory, urges to regulate and to resist regulation, respectively.  A Cross-Departmental Research Pool (CDRP) project, funded through the Ministry for Research, Science and Technology (MoRST) that has been very successful and drawn international attention to the possibility of cross-departmental co-ordination and co-operation with business.  See Hill, R., Capper, P., Whatman, R. Wilson, K, & Wong, K. (2007). Workplace learning in the New Zealand apple industry network: a new co-design method for government ‘practice making’.  Journal of Workplace Learning.  19(6), 359-376. http://www.dol.govt.nz/initiatives/workplace/sme/index.asp

Economic Restructuring and Skills Formation (ERSF) – FRST.  A case based study of the impact of economic restructuring on firms, people and learning needs.  See:  Hill, R., Bullard, T., Capper, P., Hawes, K., & Wilson, K. (1997). Learning about learning organisations: Case studies of skill formation in five New Zealand organisations. Learning Organization 5(4), 184-192.  Learning Organisation article.doc 

Learning and expertise in teams and networks (LETN) – FRST. The companion study to the ERSF study above. In this case-based study, WEB Research worked with firms to create practical responses, tools and strategies for use in workplaces to enhance the capacity of the firm and staff for learning, innovation and technology uptake – and to increase productivity.  For an example, see: R. Hill, P. Capper, K. Hawes and K. Wilson (1998). Using Activity Theory and Developmental Work Research as Tools to Analyse Contradictions in Information and Operational Systems:  a Case Study of DHL. LETN - Wollongong chapter.DOC  

Research into the design and effectiveness of public funding schemes

Performance Based Research Fund – Tertiary Education Commisison (TEC)

WEB Research (2004) Phase 1 Evaluation of the implementation of the PBRF and the conduct of the 2003 Quality Evaluation Wellington.  WEB designed and undertook a substantial evaluation of the initial impact of the Performance Based Research Fund and the conduct of the 2003 Quality Evaluation across the tertiary sector.  The evaluation required high levels of analysis, reporting and sensitivity.  A copy of this report is held at http://www.tec.govt.nz/downloads/a2z_publications/pbrf_report_overview.html 

Marsden Fund – Ministry of Research, Science and Technology (MoRST) WEB Research was commissioned to carry out an evaluation of the Marsden Fund (2004). A project undertaken with Technopolis Ltd, a leading UK-based consultancy specialising in the design, operation and evaluation of science and technology funding by governments and EU agencies.  The report can be found at: http://www.morst.govt.nz/Documents/publications/evaluations/Marsden-Fund-Evaluation-Report.pdf 

Policy development and research & evaluation for the public sector

WEB Research uses case study-based evaluations to help government agencies bridge policy and practice. The approach is a form of developmental evaluation that allows the agency to understand the systemic links between:

  • Its policies and processes (for example, labour market policy); and
  • The activities and practices of those who are affected by these policies and processes (for example, the behaviour of firms, managers and employees).

WEB and our research associates developed and trialled the case study-based approach with the Department of Labour (DoL) in a series of projects carried out between 1996-2002. The initial impetus for DoL to undertake this form of evaluation stemmed from their need to develop ‘evidence-aware’ policy in understanding firms, workplaces and the impact of departmental policy and regulation. DoL wanted to augment its standard research practices with a more bottom-up, practice-oriented approach. Case study-based evaluations allowed the department to investigate what was actually happening in workplaces and allowed for that information to flow back to policy in a meaningful way. Our evaluations are developmental for both policy groups and firms and workplaces.

Track record

In the past 13 years, WEB Research has undertaken a substantial number of policy evaluation projects in New Zealand to inform or evaluate public policy and its operational effectiveness. This work includes the Phase One Process Evaluation of the PBRF for the Tertiary Education Commission and the Evaluation of the Marsden Fund (in partnership with Technopolis) for the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology. Other clients include the Ministry of Education, the Department of Labour, the Ministry of Social Development, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority and Inland Revenue.