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CHAPTER 5 - INSTITUTIONAL STRUCTURE AND MANAGEMENT


5.1 Introduction
5.2 Current Organizational Structure
5.3 Integration and Interaction
5.4 Assessment

5.1 Introduction

The Panel has undertaken a critical analysis of the organizational structure of ILRI in order to determine whether it is functioning effectively in terms of its primary task of delivering high quality research outputs that lead to the improvement of animal health and production. To achieve the organization's objectives, the structure must facilitate effective, rational and decisive decision-making, including appropriate allocation of human and, financial resources. In other words, a culture of excellence needs to be generated by Management, acting in concert with scientists and other staff. As one ILRI scientist remarked: "we need to be lean, mean and effective." This chapter will consider whether the current organization is well designed and managed in this respect and, if not, will recommend how it might be improved. Chapters 6 and 7 contain the discussion of ILRI's research that has influenced the Panel's consideration of the organizational structure.

5.2 Current Organizational Structure

The priorities laid out in ILRI's first Strategic Plan in 1995, discussed in Chapter 3, led to an initial structure of six programmes (Conservation of Biodiversity, Utilisation of Tropical Feed Resources, Animal Health Improvement, Production Systems Research, Livestock Policy Analysis, and Strengthening Collaboration with NARS). The concept of a project-driven structure was developed at that time in response to System-wide changes in funding and the introduction of a project-based Research Agenda "matrix," ands the programmes sub-divided into 22 projects. Each programme was led by a senior scientist and each project by a project co-ordinator.

In 1997, the decision was made to reorganize the research programmes in order to achieve better integration between projects and provide a more co-ordinated approach to the implementation of the MTP.

The current structure of ILRI is illustrated in Figure 5.1. Six units, all headed by director-level staff, report to the Director General. Three are concerned with ILRI's research and research-related activities: Biosciences, Sustainable Production Systems (SPSP), and Strengthening Partnerships with NARS (SPAN), the latter programme incorporating networks, training and information services. In addition, there are the Directors for External Relations, charged with co-ordinating the Institute's fundraising and public awareness activities; Institutional Planning (currently vacant and discussed below); and Administration, comprising finance, human resources management. Information and Technology Services, and Administration in Nairobi and in Addis. The Directors of SPSP and SPAN are based in Addis Ababa, where the former serves as Resident Director for that campus, although his role is defined largely in ceremonial terms. The Director of Biosciences and all other corporate' level officers are based in Nairobi. All directors manage staff posted at both principal offices in addition to outreach sites.

ILRI's research and research-related activities are now defined in 21 projects. Biosciences comprises ten; SPSP nine; and SPAN one, divided into several sub-projects. Project 21 is the Systemwide Livestock Programme, reporting to SPSP. Each project is managed by a Project Co-ordinator who oversees the day-to-day execution of the research and reports to the Programme Director. The programmes are not consolidated with respect to location, but contain project components on both campuses as well as personnel in Latin America, Asia, and West Africa. This geographical spread presents a significant challenge to programme management. The Panel has considered this issue with some care and has concluded that there are a number of cases where the advantages of separation are clearly outweighed by the disadvantages. When the specific characteristics of a site are intrinsic to the research carried out there, the inconveniences of separation must be borne. However, when the separation does not have a clear rationale, the research would benefit by the interaction brought about by daily contact of the scientists. Subsequent chapters of this report recommend consolidation of several research thrusts at a single site.

The principal mechanism for co-ordination is the ILRI Institute Management Committee, referred to as the IMC. Chaired by the Director General, its membership includes all six directors, while the Chief Financial Officer and Human Resources Manager participate in meetings when matters for which they are directly responsible or most knowledgeable are on the agenda. The IMC meets more or less quarterly to provide advice to the Director General with regard to programme planning, co-ordination, and evaluation; the allocation of financial and human resources; donor relations and fundraising activities; Board Relations; and CGIAR and TAC interactions. Its meetings are minuted and, after approval at the next meeting, made available through electronic networks/email to all staff.

A Programme Management Committee (PMC) formerly brought together the Programme Directors, Director General and the Director of Institute Planning to focus on opportunities for collaboration across programmes but met only recently for the first time in many months.

Finally, an Administrative Management Committee (AMC) meets at least quarterly to assure co-ordination of the units reporting to the Director of Administration and to identify priority needs for financial, human resources, information technology and administrative services.

The position of Director of Institutional Planning is assigned responsibility for co-ordinating ILRI priority setting, planning, resource allocation, and evaluation for the Institute's three substantive programmes. Reporting to the Director General, the Director would provide a staff service, rather than exercising line authority over any aspect of the programmes. The Panel questions the effectiveness of this approach and has considered alternative ways to achieve the programme integration that was envisaged when ILRI was established.

5.3 Integration and Interaction

Clearly the creation of ILRI from two centres presented a significant challenge, firstly at the level of creating programme and project organizational structures to continue the research activities, secondly at the level of methods and approach to mechanisms for priority-setting and thirdly to address the question of how a series of diverse disciplines could be integrated and mechanisms put in place to achieve maximum added value from strong interactions. It is important to consider the factors that are likely to promote as well as those that are likely to inhibit such processes before designing an organizational structure to optimise integration and interaction.

A number of the factors that promote integration/interaction are listed below:

· complementarity of expertise required to achieve common goals;
· knowledge of available expertise within the Institute and respect for other disciplines;
· acceptance of the mutual benefit of a multidisciplinary approach;
· identification with the Institute's goals rather than project or programme goals;
· reduction in internal competition for project-specific resources;
· rewards for interaction and integration;
· belief in a team-based rather than an individual-based approach;
· single site operation.

The inhibitory factors are essentially the reverse of those listed above, but a key inhibiting factor can be the organizational structure itself, which the Panel considers to be significant in this regard.

There are a wide range of options for achieving the optimisation of research output and impact, and it is clear that the issue of integration and interaction is an item that is high on the agenda at all levels within ILRI. Given the short time-scale since the creation of ILRI, it would be unrealistic to expect that full integration would have been achieved, and this is clearly the case. However, there is significant evidence of interaction between programmes and projects and of integration in the area of animal production and health (already initiated prior to the formation of ILRI). There is also an increased awareness of the aims and objectives of the different projects across the programmes.

5.4 Assessment

The current organizational structure of ILRI is relatively new and thus the views expressed here are given at an early stage in its evolution; however they should provide key pointers towards change during the next round of planning. The Panel has identified the following as key issues that need to be addressed if the Centre is to function optimally, achieve its goals more effectively and generate the expected excellence of output:

· A clear pathway of efficient and decisive decision making needs to be built into the structure that not only provides greater autonomy at different levels but also provides a scientific overview of the programmes and projects that is independent of the individual programmes. This has previously been undertaken by a Director of Research - a position that no longer exists.

· The management of some projects over two sites (Addis and Nairobi) is not justified in terms of research needs; it creates major problems particularly in terms of integration, co-ordination, and cost.

· Many of the research priorities identified require inputs from a range of disciplines with clear scientific leadership. This integration is inhibited by the current structure and leads to the conclusion that closely related projects with common aims should be merged.

The Panel suggests the following reorganization of ILRI's research and research-related agenda:

1. Animal Genetics and Genomics
Characterisation, conservation and use of animal genetic resources; and development of disease- and parasite-resistant ruminants.

2. Animal Disease Control
Molecular biology and immunology of parasitic disease, leading to the development of sub-unit vaccines; and new diagnostic tools for the improvement of disease control through an understanding of the relevance of different control strategies.

3. System Science. Impact, and Policy Analysis
Increasing returns to livestock research through systems and policy analysis and impact assessment.

4. Production Systems and Animal Nutrition
Improved nutrition and management of livestock and of feed supplies for greater productivity and net economic returns; characterisation and conservation of forage genetic resources; and improving productivity and sustainability of crop-livestock systems in various regions, including those under disease risk and smallholder dairy systems.

5. International Co-operation -
Training, information, networks, institutional partnership development, and the Systemwide Livestock Programme.

The Panel is less convinced of the precise allocation of activities between programmes three and four and recognises that various considerations might come into play that would argue for shifts that differ from those suggested.

The new programme structure that is proposed has multiple goals. It is aimed at facilitating interaction among scientists and teams, especially the exchange and maturation of keen ideas into research of the highest priority and quality, and improving the Institute's organizational capacity to facilitate these essential processes. Current projects in the Biosciences Programme would settle into three programmes: Animal Genetics and Genomics (Projects 1 and 2), Disease Control (Projects 3 to 7), and Production Systems and Animal Nutrition (Projects 8 to 10). Current projects in the Sustainable Production Systems Programme would settle into two programmes: System Science, Impact, and Policy Analysis (Projects 11 and 12) and Production Systems and Animal Nutrition (Projects 13-19). ILRI's training, information, network, and institutional partnership development activities would be allocated, as well as the SLP, to the International Co-operation Programme (Projects 20 and 21).

The fundamental rationale at the project level behind the Panel's recommendation is to create cognate multidisciplinary programmes that address a set of related research goals with a cohesive and well focussed approach. Creation of the Animal Genetics and Genomics Programme would highlight this priority research theme as an area of excellent quality that merits expansion to enhance ILRI's reputation. This is a major area of potential growth that is attractive to donors and one that should capitalise on information generated from other mammalian genomics research. Creation of a Disease Control Programme would formalise and extend existing links among its component projects. This programme would foster an interactive inter-disciplinary1 team that would tightly connect its laboratory-based work to research in the field and vice versa. It is indispensable that scientists in the projects advise each other so that coherent approaches, appropriate tools, and new control methods be developed in a context where need and feasibility are jointly considered. Creation of a Production Systems and Animal Nutrition Programme would fortify the intimate nutrition and feed management connections of Projects 8 to 10 with the crop-livestock projects in the current Sustainable Production Systems Programme, fostering inter-disciplinary links with other programmes in the same manner as previously mentioned. Creation of the Systems Science, Impact, and Policy Analysis Programme consolidates the entire continuum of ILRI's economics expertise, integrating it with natural resource management and environmental perspectives, to facilitate goals and impacts from the other programmes.

1 The Panel distinguishes between inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary research. Multi-disciplinary work involves different kinds of scientific scrutiny at various sequential or parallel stages in a concerted research programme. However, inter-disciplinary research requires the team of disciplinary scientists to co-design research projects and their connections in constituting the overall programme, starting with the initial stage of planning.

The Panel is recommending, at the project level, consolidation to achieve better synergy among activities, and, at the programme level, restructuring to facilitate a sharper focus and clearer research direction.

To ensure strong scientific leadership and incisive decision-making, the Panel recommends that ILRI modify its organizational structure to include the following elements (see Figure 5.2):

i) A new office of Deputy Director General (Research) to act in the absence of the Director General, oversee ILRI's research agenda, take a primary role in planning and priority setting exercises, promote inter-programme collaboration, and provide independent analysis of the resource needs of research programmes. The DDG (Research) would also oversee the Research Support Units.

ii) The current research and research-related agenda consolidated into five programmes as follows: Animal Genetics and Genomics; Animal Disease Control; System Science, Impact, and Policy Analysis; Production Systems and Animal Nutrition; and International Co-operation.

iii) The programmes consisting of projects as at present, though with a different configuration (as proposed in Chapters 6, 7, and 8).

iv) One unit - the Office of External Relations - in a staff relationship to the Director General to continue co-ordinating the Institute's fundraising and public awareness activities.

v) No change in the responsibilities of the Administration department, which would retain responsibility for finance, human resources management, information technology services, and administration of both Nairobi and Addis campuses.

The suggestions above do not imply that all heads of programmes should be at the director level. In fact, the Panel believes that there are too many staff at this level at present.

Attention also needs to be given to how these various units interact to create a unified organization that facilitates the effective performance of key Institute functions. These include strategic, medium-term, and annual planning; priority setting; resource allocation; and management of human and financial resources. In this regard, the Panel suggests that the current co-ordination mechanisms be adjusted as follows:

1. An Institute Management Committee (IMC) with a membership including the DG, the DDG (Research), and the heads of Administration and External Relations, with participation by the managers of finance and human resources as the agenda demands.

2. A Programme Management Committee (PMC) with a membership including the DDG (Research), the five heads of programmes and of the Research Support unit, with occasional participation by heads of projects.

3. An Administrative Management Committee (AMC) as at present with a membership including the heads of finance, human resources, information technology, and administration in Nairobi and in Addis.

4. An Institute policy that calls for regularly scheduled staff meetings at the level of programme and administrative unit.

The Panel believes that each of these committees should meet at least monthly to ensure that there is an efficient flow of information up and down the organization.

The Panel expects that the July 1998 document "Responsibilities and Authority for Institute, Programme and Administrative Management" would be suitably revised to reflect the proposed structure and co-ordinating mechanisms and that steps would be taken to ensure that there is commensurate authority and responsibility at each level.

Figure 5.1 Current Organizational Structure

Figure 5.2: Proposed Organizational Chart of ILRI


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