This article summarizes findings on the status of Azeri Policy Research Organizations (PROs), both the demand by policymakers for their analyses and on their structure and capacity for conducting policy research. The findings are based primarily on a series of semi-structured interviews conducted during the November 2005 – February 2006 period. The broad picture that emerges on the sources of policy analysis used by government officials and members of Parliament is one where those interviewed turn most often to their own ministries and other government organizations, followed by international organizations and search the internet. There is little overt hostility to PROs and NGOs; indeed there appears to be significant informal interaction between decision makers and these organizations. However, the PROs are seen more as presenting policy views and not as sources of hard information or analysis. Four PROs were identified, and they exhibit a wide variance in the volume of analytic work they undertake, the extent of their involvement in the policy process, and the “policy clients.”
Members of the Ninjin-net Association, a NPO involved in community informatization activities participated in this study. Comparison between the sense of community of Ninjin-net members and non-member residents’ revealed that Ninjin-net members did not have a particularly proactive sense of community in terms of participating in local activities. However, both members and non-member residents had a moderately high proactive sense of community. Examining the relationship between the sense of community in members and the motivation to participate in NPO activities indicated that the motivation to participate in Ninjin-net activities was higher among the members who had a strong desire to actively cooperate with others in local activities, those who believed it was important for residents to have the right to decide how to better their community, and those who did not believe that it was acceptable to leave local issues to the government or to dedicated others. These results suggest that encouraging Ninjin-net members who are highly motivated to participate in Ninjin-net activities may also lead them to participate in more general local activities.
This paper follows on previous work focusing on the media representation of volunteerism by examining the local newspaper representation of volunteerism and the nonprofit sector-related articles and columns over a period from 2002 to 2006. The research notes the historical development of volunteerism and the nonprofit sector and contrasting opinions regarding the influence of media on public consciousness of volunteerism and the nonprofit sector, particularly in the case of Japanese media. Use of the ‘Issue-Attention Cycle’ allows for identification and analysis of two trends in the representation of volunteerism and the nonprofit sector in the newspaper media: one an increase-decrease trend, the other a transition from reports on activities to content that is more informational and motivational. As these two trends occur in association with representation that is either in the form of newspaper articles or in the form of newspaper columns, the research concludes that the potential for agenda-setting through newspaper representation of volunteerism and the nonprofit sector can be found in newspaper columns.