Corinna Frey worked with international think tank RAND on a short-term project investigating innovations in forced migration. She came away inspired to use her experience in her own research studies.

Corinna writes:

“I chose RAND Europe for this internship for the following two reasons. On the one hand, I wanted to get a better understanding of how research is conducted within an organization such as RAND, being at the intersection of academia and policy. On the other hand, I was already working on the topic of innovation in the context of forced migration and this internship gave me the unique opportunity to explore this topic further.

The internship project was interested in innovation and forced migration, broadly referring to innovative practices in the context of refugee crises, humanitarian response and global displacement. In a first step the aim was to identify and describe the existing practical examples based on key reports, studies and websites. In a second step, we classified the existing examples to gain a better understanding of the different types of innovation and identified first emerging patterns, potential gaps and policy questions to explore further. Due to the limited time (10 days for scoping, snowballing, review of key literature, description and classification of 71 empirical examples, and summary of emerging findings) the overview does not claim to be an exhaustive list of innovation practices, but was intended as a first step to map the landscape. The emerging insights and patterns were discussed in a post on the RAND Europe blog: How Innovation Can Assist the Refugee ‘Pathway’ | RAND

The aim of the internship was to further develop and refine the typology of innovation in the context of forced migration. The purpose of this classification was to identify patterns (for instance asking which stakeholders are involved in humanitarian innovation or in which phase of the migration pathway is innovation taking place). Based on these patterns and insights, the aim was to develop wider policy questions and implications. The ultimate intention was to present and discuss these findings in a RAND internal team meeting as well as share these findings with a wider, public audience.

Yes, a typology of existing innovation practices was developed and related examples collected and documented. In total, 71 empirical examples of humanitarian innovation were classified. The typology and findings were summarized and presented at an internal team meeting at RAND on January 30, 2017.

Policy questions and answers included the following:

“How can policy approach and invest in a more systems-approach to innovation in the context of forced migration?”

By looking at which interactions between stakeholders/ phases/ sectors already exist

By exploring which ones work, which are fruitful, etc.

“How can policy approach a balance between bottom-up and top-down innovations in the context of forced migration ?”

By exploring how bottom-up innovation processes can be supported by top-down approaches

and vice versa

In addition, the findings and questions were discussed on the RAND Blogpost. The title of the blogpost is ‘How Innovation Can Assist the Refugee ‘Pathway’.

The internship allowed me to get a very good understanding of an international think tank and its working practices. It allowed me to compare the research, working patterns and cultures of a global Think Tank with an international university. I hence have a clearer understanding of the work I would like to pursue in the future and the research environment I value.

On the one hand, this internship had and has a direct impact on my current PhD studies. First, it inspired me to further pursue research on the topic of forced migration and innovation, especially referring to the use of digital technologies in this context. Second, it gave me a very good understanding of the different institutions and scholars working on these topics, which helps me in my PhD research.

On the other hand, the internship will have a lasting impact beyond my PhD studies in terms of my future career. First, I got first-hand insights into policy research and now have a better understanding of what such institutions and employers might be looking for. Second, I was able to build excellent networks to extremely kind as well as brilliant people, especially Sonja Marjanovic and Jenny Corbett, that work on very interesting research topics. It was a pleasure to work with them during the internship and on the blogpost. The blog post further signals my interest in these topics to a wider audience, which will prove helpful for my future career.”

Corinna Frey worked with RAND Europe for 12 days in December 2016 and January 2017

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