BISS is a public nonprofit nonpartisan policy-oriented research organization.
Public and nonprofit nature. The fact that an institution is 'public' and means, first of all, that a certain group of people noticed certain problems in the public space and decided to act on a non-profit basis to solve them. At the heart of a 'public action' is a volunteer impulse, ie. the desire to benefit society without a guarantee of material enrichment.
A volunteer can apply to grantors ('financial volunteers') to financially support an initiative or a public organization. This practice - fundraising - is widespread and justified. However, the line between fundraising for public needs and fundraising for self-enrichment is very thin and it ultimately depends on the conscience of volunteers whether it be crossed or not.
Public nature means that the organization conducts its activities openly and constantly informs the public about them, including important personnel or organizational changes, except for strictly confidential matters. In the Belarusian reality, the observance of the principle of publicness carries some risks, so it can be understandable that many NGOs inconsistently adhere to it. However, it is still valid imperative to be as public as possible.
Research consists in exploring a certain area of reality in order to present as adequate a picture of this reality as possible. The research dimension can be compared to a mirror in a house. It is unnecessary for biological existence. But if someone wants to live a cultural life, then a mirror is a necessity.
Research typically provides answers to two fundamental questions: what happened or is happening and why it happened or is happening. Research may also include predictions of what will happen.
The research dimension for BISS has always been fundamental. For the methodological paradigm within which the organization tends to work, see section IV.
Political impartiality means that in the course of research we are guided by the principle of scientific objectivity. In the course of evaluating events, making recommendations, choosing topics and partners we are guided by our strategic vision (see section VII). It is important to emphasize that
the principle of political impartiality does not mean that we do not evaluate political actors or their actions at all; it means that in our evaluation we are consistent in applying the established criteria,
e.g. promoting or failing to achieve the strategic goal of Belarus, the cost-benefit rationality, the adequacy of measures to the goals, etc.
Policy-orientation means that our research and analytics are planned and designed in such a way that they inform public actors (both political and non-political) in their decision making. James McGann distinguished four stages of policy-making:
- Problem identification.
- Choosing a political strategy.
According to McGann, think tanks' specific role is at stages (1) and (2)1 . This is the way BISS perceives its role: our task is to identify problems and challenges in society and bring the to public view (set agenda). BISS also considers as its task to analyse and evaluate existing programs, projects, concepts, bills from the perspective of Belarus' strategic goal and by means of risk analysis.
1 McGann, James G. Think Tanks and Policy Advice in the US. Academics, advisors and advocates, New York: Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2007. P. 40.
Approved by BISS Board in April 2020.