This working paper from the OECD is well worth a read. The research highlights some pioneering practices in different OECD countries.
Personally, I struggled with the paper and found it too generalized. For me, it came across as a summary of the research literature. However, there were two fundamental weaknesses. Firstly, the paper did not adequately differentiate between theory and empirical research. Secondly, the research paper was anchored too narrowly in terms of literature. For example, I would have expected to see reference to the enormous body of research in the area of business administration, in particular in relation to the following areas:
- Strategy, and
The primary title is ‘Mental Health and Work’ but the secondary title is ‘Achieving well integrated policies and service delivery’. I accept that there is a reasonable overview of parts of the mental health literature but the paper is very weak on achieving integrated policies and effective service delivery.
Most importantly, the working paper comes across as written by academics without recent experience of the realities of life for both the mentally ill and the challenges of the contemporary work force. The research ignores context, which in my view is critical.
Context includes widespread excessive austerity, with governments increasingly facing polarization of political opinion – the extreme left and extreme right are on the rise – politicians of the center are struggling. As has been highlighted repeatedly in this blog, over the last four years, governments’ reform of the public sector bureaucracies have been largely ineffective. Yet this working paper is arguing in favor of greater bureauracy, rather than training more mental health practitioners.
Apart from a clear perspective in terms of methodology (either in terms of objectivity or subjectivity), the biggest weakness in this paper is that it is not anchored in strategic analysis. This blog has long argued for more grand strategy and less policy on the hoof but politicians play for short-term political wins.
As an expert in delivering strategy and effective change, I found the paper very light on best practice in delivery change.
Whilst this review has been rather critical, the paper cites some excellent examples of good practice, like for example in Australia.
Overall, I would have expected an internationally acclaimed think-tank, like the OECD ,to be capable of more effective research, like the quality of say the IMF (the International Monetary Authority).
Of course, I am happy to be challenged?