Project number: 2022-094
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $80,000.00
Principal Investigator: Mark Stafford Smith
Organisation: Dr DM Stafford Smith (sole trader)
Project start/end date: 4 Dec 2022 - 30 Mar 2024


In order to support a greater degree of systems thinking in its advisory committees, it is proposed to expose all committee members to the potential approaches to priority setting through a systems lens and benefits of these approaches, and then work with a subset of Research Advisory Committees [and possibly others] to test how bringing tools such as theory of change into their deliberations could assist them to deliver better designed priorities. Working specifically towards theories of change in the committee processes, at appropriate levels of complexity, is expected to provide (i) a context to making approaches of different committee members more explicit, (ii) a basis for better design logic, and (iii) a way of more readily communicating the committee's priorities. The focus of this approach on identifying and working back from ultimate objectives helps frame what may legitimately be narrow priorities in a wider analysis of system drivers such as incoherent policy environments or climate change and thus enable larger agendas to be built around such issues across FRDC. An explicit emphasis on barriers, enablers and assumptions, as well as what is necessary and sufficient to achieve the objectives, also provides a strong basis for evaluating progress and learning. Together these attributes are anticipated to achieve the intent of supporting better FRDC priority setting and increased impact for its stakeholders.


1. Build the knowledge, attitude, skill, aspiration and practice (kasap) among the FRDC’s advisory committees and staff, with particular focus on Extension Officers, to embed impact pathway thinking into the identification and prioritisation of RD&E needs and investments.

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