What we do

PARI works to improve the effectiveness of state institutions in the delivery of services and infrastructure. We generate high-quality research to better understand the drivers of institutional performance in the public sector, and improve implementation of policies in relevant fields. We work with relevant change agents in government to address institutional blockages or systems weaknesses in their departments.

Our research is widely disseminated to generate informed public debate. PARI also supports a new generation of applied researchers and scholars, with an interest in understanding and strengthening public institutions.

We focus on four mutually supporting activities:

  • Undertaking research and strategy development.
  • Hosting events which bring together in conversation senior personnel and change agents in the public service, civil society, business and academia.
  • Developing researchers and scholars focusing on governance and public sector reform.
  • Working with and assisting senior officials and their teams to understand and solve institutional problems.

PARI offers a new approach to conventional studies of governance in South Africa. Instead of assuming that policy or political will are the sole determinants of the effective functioning of governance structures, PARI also examines the institutional context in which decisions, authority and power are made and executed. As such, PARI is one of the few institutions doing empirical research on the organisations and institutions that make up the public sector and the state more broadly. PARI applies ethnographic and historical methodologies to the study of the state, “getting inside” public sector organisations to see how they function in practice, interpreting the implications for the delivery of public goods and for governance more broadly, and developing interventions that can have a meaningful and sustainable impact on effectiveness and accountability.