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Health Res Policy Syst. 2014 Oct 29;12:63. doi: 10.1186/1478-4505-12-63.

How can we establish more successful knowledge networks in developing countries? Lessons learnt from knowledge networks in Iran.

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Knowledge Utilization Research Center, Tehran University of Medical Science, No 1547, North Karegar St, Enghelab Ave, Tehran, Iran.



Formal knowledge networks are considered among the solutions for strengthening knowledge translation and one of the elements of innovative systems in developing and developed countries. In the year 2000, knowledge networks were established in Iran's health system to organize, lead, empower, and coordinate efforts made by health-related research centers in the country. Since the assessment of a knowledge network is one of the main requirements for its success, the current study was designed in two qualitative and quantitative sections to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the established knowledge networks and to assess their efficiency.


In the qualitative section, semi-structured, in-depth interviews were held with network directors and secretaries. The interviews were analyzed through the framework approach. To analyze effectiveness, social network analysis approach was used. That is, by considering the networks' research council members as 'nodes', and the numbers of their joint articles--before and after the network establishments--as 'relations or ties', indices of density, clique, and centrality were calculated for each network. In the qualitative section, non-transparency of management, lack of goals, administrative problems were among the most prevalent issues observed.


Currently, the most important challenges are the policies related to them and their management. In the quantitative section, we observed that density and clique indices had risen for some networks; however, the centrality index for the same networks was not as high. Consequently the attribution of density and clique indices to these networks was not possible.


Therefore, consolidating and revising policies relevant to the networks and preparing a guide for establishing managing networks could prove helpful. To develop knowledge and technology in a country, networks need to solve the problems they face in management and governance. That is, the first step towards the realization of true knowledge networks in health system.

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