Reporting and keeping track of the collective progress
Being donor-sponsored policy dialogues, the INSPIRED processes need to keep track of their progress so as to inform the EU and its Member States on the changes that are taking place, both at the level of agency (changes in the behaviours, attitudes and capacities of the actors involved) and at the level of structure (institutional and/or legislative changes in the policy domain that can be related to the dialogue process). This reporting has obvious accountability purposes –donors need to know where their taxpayers’ money is going– as well as political and diplomatic implications –it also provides them with ﬁrst-hand intelligence on the political economy of the policy reforms that they are supporting.
This latter aspect is especially relevant, as most donors often struggle to understand why certain policy reforms that appear to enjoy enough “political will” and to be technically robust nevertheless get stuck and fail to deliver the expected outcomes. Unfortunately, budget support programmes often have to suspend or postpone their disbursement tranches due to discrepancies between the targets and the actual value of the policy indicators agreed upon between the partner government and the donor. In such an event, the viewpoint of other stakeholders working in the policy domain can contribute to explaining why the reform is not working as expected and even propose potential solutions to unlock the situation.
Beyond providing donors with valuable insider information that is otherwise very hard to access, the reporting mechanism of the INSPIRED approach is also foreseen as a trust-building technique, as it allows the stakeholders to realise their collective progress and increase their own self-conﬁdence as a group. Indeed, taking stock of any improvements resulting from cooperation is one of the most effective ways of consolidating the collaborative dynamics brought about through dialogue, as the parties involved in the exchange become aware of what they are achieving together as opposed to what they would accomplish if acting single-handedly.
This is one of the reasons why the INSPIRED method is strongly results-oriented despite avoiding the use of “expected results” or the predeﬁnition of outcomes (see the section above on INSPIRED’s three-tier approach), as results are not an end in themselves, but also a means of cementing trust among the different stakeholders involved. This is also why the approach avoids determining the results in advance, as dialogue is conceived as the main means to progressively adjust the individual objectives of the participants and realign them into an overall purpose or shared vision about the goals and instruments of the policy at stake.