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A learning system for addressing persistent disadvantage

Cover image of the report


Date published

27 February 2023

Download [2 MB PDF]

We engaged FrankAdvice to prepare a report setting out potential features of a learning system. The Productivity Commission intends to use this work to inform their findings and recommendations in relation to a stronger public management learning system.  

FrankAdvice gathered information through a range of approaches including a partnership with the Productivity Commission to run a key thinkers workshop, case studies, and a scan of relevant literature from New Zealand and overseas.  

The report considers what ‘learning system’ means, and what a good learning system might look like. It then sets out the key players and key components in a learning system to understand where the gaps are, and the actions that would be needed to address them. 

The report identifies what features a learning system should include to address persistent disadvantage. These include: 

  • Sharing and synthesising knowledge across the public management system. 
  • Including diverse views and perspectives to help shape those decisions as well as judge the impacts. In particular, people who are affected by government decisions. 
  • Helping policymakers take decisions that work, now and in the future. 
  • Taking an intergenerational lens, which includes ensuring the impacts of decisions over time are evaluated.   

In their report FrankAdvice outlines six key components of an effective learning system: knowledge generation and use, leadership and accountability, and capacity and capability. The report sets out potential actions under each component to support the learning system to effectively address persistent disadvantage. The report’s actions include: 

  • Establishing an all-of-government leadership function, to make sure the Crown plays its part in a learning system with Māori represented at all levels. 
  • Establishing a government-wide knowledge policy that includes evaluation and setting requirements and standards of practice for government agencies. 
  • Ensure government agencies work with people to understand and evaluate what matters to them, as determined by them. 
  • Take a strengths-based approach to evaluation, take a broad understanding of knowledge, and be cognisant of who decides what counts as knowledge. 
  • Establish a (separate) centre of excellence for the learning system and place a requirement on agencies to dedicate resourcing to evaluation.  

This report provides input to inform our thinking for our inquiry into A Fair Chance for All: Breaking the cycle of persistent disadvantage. 

The content and recommendations presented in the report are the views of the author. They are not an indication that the Commission agrees with or endorses these views. 


Productivity growth

The goal of our research is to facilitate a move from an economy that grows by using more “inputs” (such as labour or natural resources), to one where productivity plays a greater role in driving economic growth – essentially, working smarter, with greater financial and knowledge capital employed per worker.

Our research explores a wide range of productivity issues: employment, firm dynamics, technology diffusion, innovation, regional development, spatial and public-sector productivity.

Working together

The commissioning of research and the practice of collaboration with others is important to us. It enables us to access subject/sector specialists and benefit from the cross-promotion of ideas and insights. You will find research from the Commission, as well as research we commissioned, below.

Strengthening learning

Our Economics & Research team is independently evaluated every two years to understand how to improve and enhance our impact. See the latest evaluation report and 2020 survey results here.


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