Anticorruption posters and billboards are common sights around the world. Most anticorruption programs now include an awareness-raising element. The hope is that anticorruption messages – whether shared via posters, radio or TV, for example – will inspire citizens to refuse to pay bribes and to report any corruption they encounter.
Guest post in The Conversation
Inclusion is the new buzzword in international development. The recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals are perhaps the most ambitious articulation of this consensus, with Goal 16 in particular calling for building more ‘effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels’.
Last month, UNDP co-hosted a Global Meeting in Jordan on supporting core government functions in fragile and conflict-affected settings. It brought together over 60 colleagues and practitioners from the UN system, World Bank, donors, and government representatives from around the world.
Guest post on Devpolicy introducing panels at this week's Australasian Aid Conference
The World Bank launched its flagship World Development Report (WDR) this week, which boldly redefines how governance and policy interact to yield good or bad development outcomes. People are rightly praising the report for rejecting best practices, embracing adaptation and endorsing a focus on politics.
Research in Africa has consistently found that the poor are more likely than the better off to pay bribes to state officials for public services. This matters for all sorts of reasons, but from a state-building and developmental perspective, the crisis of trust that corruption can trigger can be devastating. When services are pushed just that bit further away by public-servants-turned-corrupt-gatekeepers, it is likely to colour the already jaundiced perceptions that hard-pressed communities may have of state institutions and of their legitimacy; and also, as Seligson puts it, of ‘the broader national governance frameworks in which they are located’.
New Year 2017 brings with it the 20th anniversary of the International Budget Partnership (IBP). Since its foundation, IBP has supported efforts around the world to make budget processes more transparent, participatory and accountable so that public resources are used to address poverty. During our milestone anniversary year, we will reflect on what we have learned and where we are headed.
Guest post for Africa at LSE
One of the most significant failings of international political assistance has been the tendency to focus too much on institutional structure and process, and not enough on culture and behaviour.
In a previous DLP paper and blog I asked whether governance advisors in high-growth autocracies should seek to promote democracy. The answer was complex, but one of the considerations related to the likely economic effects of the process of transition itself.
A few years ago I was involved in a research project that looked at state-business relations and economic growth in post-independence Africa. One of our findings was that several African states had been able to grow strongly, for 15 years or more, despite the absence of what most people would describe as ‘good governance’. In states such as Kenya, Malawi, and Côte d’Ivoire, post-independence strongmen, ‘fathers’ of their nations, had presided over strong growth by curtailing multi-party democracy, centralizing economic rents via the patronage system and carving out some space for long-term technocratic planning. We called this ‘developmental patrimonialism’.
An astonishing political transformation has taken place around the world over the past three decades. Most countries today are considered formal democracies, and elections have become almost universal. Since 2000, only five countries have not held elections at the national level (China, Eritrea, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates).
Recently, I’ve read many articles and heard from many colleagues who are concerned about the apparent competition between the Doing Development Differently (DDD) network and the Thinking and Working Politically (TWP) community of practice.
In a follow-up to Luke Arnold’s recent post on coalitions for disability inclusion in Indonesia, Angie Bexley introduces a broader initiative in which reform coalitions are working for the inclusion of six marginalised groups.
One of the most important issues facing Pacific democracies is how to realise democracy’s promise to support inclusive development. I have been struck by the many common challenges that emerging democracies face, regardless of region, as outlined in Alina Rocha Menocal’s discussion on the complex relationship between democracy, state-building and development. However, I think her insights also bring to the fore some of the unique problems that the Pacific region faces.
Over the past decade or so, Australia’s efforts to support disability-inclusive development have begun to move from a charity approach to a rights-based approach. We now recognise that positive changes for people with disabilities are best brought about by – oddly enough – people with disabilities.
Guest post for Prospect
As a narrative specialist, I listen to the stories people tell about their work and their organisations. I help them find out whether their audiences are hearing what they want them to hear, or whether they need to tell the story differently or even find a new story to tell. And I think the development narrative is facing a big challenge just now – what we say we do often doesn’t reflect what we actually do.
Why, despite the best of intentions and the investment of significant resources, do peace processes so often fail to lead to a stable and lasting peace after civil war?
We came to the DLP conference on ‘power, politics and positive deviance’ to talk about emerging lessons from the Central Land Council’s community development program. The program works to maintain Aboriginal identity, language, culture and connection to country; and to strengthen Aboriginal people’s participation in mainstream Australia by improving their health, education and employment outcomes.
This guest post by Anna Naupa draws on her Adrian Leftwich Memorial Lecture, presented at the DLP Annual Conference 2016: Power, Politics and Positive Deviance. It is the perspective of Anna Naupa and not that of any organisation with which she is, or has been, affiliated.
A large oil painting hangs in the formal reception room of Myanmar’s Ministry of Mines. A powerful and confident 19th century Burmese senior civil servant shows a pot full of rubies to a covetous foreign trader. Glowing at the centre of the pot is the Padamyar Ngamauk or the ‘royal ruby’—the massive and flawless ruby that was the pride of the royal treasury.
Guest post for openDemocracy
Some strikingly parallel questions are being asked in my own discipline of anthropology and by those examining how donors and practitioners can think and work politically with developing communities.
Last week was a big one for the Australasian development community, particularly for those interested in the politics of development. The Australasian Aid Conference at the Australian National University (10-11 February) included a packed session on 'Putting political thinking into development practice'. And DLP’s Annual Conference at La Trobe University focused on Power, Politics and Positive Deviance.
Guest post for the OECD
In Myanmar, as recently as 2012, a mobile phone SIM card cost more than USD 1,500. Yet by June 2015 more than half of the country's population had a card and a handset to go with it.
Guest blogger Priya Chattier speaks at DLP's 2016 Annual Conference at La Trobe University in Melbourne on Monday 8 February. Her post here begins a short series on the conference theme: Power, politics and positive deviance.
Many well-intentioned development programmes founder in the face of resistance from entrenched elites who feel threatened by a potential loss of power and resources. Resources intended for the poor and disadvantaged benefit the rich and powerful. In response, development practitioners and academics have become keenly interested in the political factors that shape development outcomes over the past ten years.
In October 2015 I met Anna, a softly spoken young woman who lives in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (PNG). We talked during the recess break at school and Anna told me about some of the challenges she faces trying to complete year ten, the final year of compulsory education in PNG. These include that she is beaten by her aunt and grandmother, they refuse her the bus money to get to school and that her aunt recently set fire to her text books.
The Developmental Leadership Program will host its 2016 Annual Conference at La Trobe University in Melbourne on 8 February. Its theme is ‘Power, Politics and Positive Deviance’.
The World’s Women 2015, recently released by the UN, tells us that in 2015 women held 22% of parliamentary seats – almost double the level recorded in 1997 (12%).
People’s reactions to the question ‘does better service delivery improve a state’s legitimacy?’ are typically fast, instinctive and often surprisingly emotive. To use Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow model, ‘System 1’ thinking kicks in. Of course services support state legitimacy, encouraging citizens to accept the state’s right to rule over them. Can we imagine a legitimate state that doesn’t meet its citizens’ basic human needs?
Since my DLP paper on Medellín was published, the city has become a ‘model’ for development – offering a palette of policies to combat urban violence that can provide a blueprint for cities with similar problems.
Guest post in FP2P
Policymakers have long struggled with how to address the myriad challenges that plague fragile states. Some argue that building institutions is key. Others argue that other things matter more, such as establishing more legitimate processes to choose leaders, or improving the quality of political settlements. Still others look to human rights as the solution.
In September 2012, lawyers representing an Ethiopian farmer announced that they planned to sue the UK government for its role in human rights violations in Ethiopia. The farmer, named in court papers as “Mr O”, alleged that the Ethiopian government’s “villagisation” programme had involved the forced resettlement of thousands of families including his own.
Just a few months ago, when the sheer scale of my current project was beginning to overwhelm me, I began to keep a research diary.
I had set out to examine why, after two decades of international intervention and aid, armed groups were not only as prevalent in the DRC as they had ever been, but were proliferating. The question I was trying to answer was admittedly a broad one – what is it that we’ve missed about armed groups? Researching this topic revealed more questions than answers.
Thinking and Working Politically presents development to us as an endeavour embedded within power structures. This is so important.
It helps us see clearly that we need to understand domestic politics to deliver development outcomes. Who are the players? Who makes decisions? Who will stand to lose from a proposal and how can they block progress?
Why context matters
The problem with politics is that it involves people, and people do strange things. When development actors engage with power they often prefer to iron out the unpredictability of real politics in favour of the much neater lines of trends and social groups. We revere drivers of change studies because we can cope with the long-term, identity-based analysis of `deep’ politics.
Serendipity, perhaps. I joined the Political Settlements Research Programme at the beginning of June; my first formal engagement was on June 17, at the Political Settlements Workshop organised by the Developmental Leadership Program. It was quite an induction day.
We tend to look through the political settlements lens only at places experiencing either conflict or deep poverty – or both. Yet we would know much more about how useful the lens is if we examined more successes with it. Areas of stability and calm, especially in regions where near neighbours seem to be struggling to resolve strife, might teach us something about how historical experiences do or don’t chime with contemporary donor practices.
When your office is in Jakarta, you get a lot of time to day-dream in taxis while going from hotel to office and back again. I am just back from a couple of weeks working there and I marvelled at the traffic, the tech-savvy population and the profusion of swanky hotels. On one long journey I got to musing about the challenges facing Indonesia’s efforts to shift itself upwards in the World Bank’s country classification database.
The political settlements framework can seem a distraction to some practitioners, many of whom have been thinking and working politically about development for a number of years. They find the term difficult to define with any precision and, in any case, quite unnecessary. In the real world, progress towards better understanding of and engagement with the political conditions which help and hinder development has been ticking along nicely, independently of the academic debates.
DLP hosted a day-long high level introductory workshop on political settlements in June. This post is the first of a series inspired by the workshop and written by researchers, policymakers and practitioners. Here Alina Rocha Menocal discusses current research and thinking on the usefulness of a political settlements approach.
Unsurprisingly, when people are asked about corruption, they say they are against it. But that doesn’t tell us what they really think about it, or what they do when confronted with it.
Today marks the fortieth anniversary of Indira Gandhi’s declaration of a national emergency in India, which led to an 18-month period of autocracy. Civil rights were suspended, political opponents and journalists were arrested without the right to trial, censorship was imposed, elections were cancelled, non-Congress state governments were dismissed, the constitution changed.
Everyone associates Brazil with football and the World Cup. Brazilians pouring out onto the street last summer to protest the competition being hosted in their country was last thing many of us expected to see.
This month at DLP our focus is largely on corruption as we prepare for a collaborative event in London discussing 'Corruption and development'. Yet we could hardly fail to notice that inequality, a hot topic since Pikettymania and the theme of our conference earlier in the year, has resurfaced with a vengeance.
This post for Devpolicy unpacks the findings of a new Development Policy Centre / DLP paper
Next week's meeting of the Thinking and Working Politically Community of Practice will focus on gender at an opportune time. It follows a spate of interesting papers, blog posts and talks about the relationship between 'thinking and working politically' and gender issues.
Guest post for From Poverty to Power
Donors have recently made great efforts to understand power in partner countries. Yet they have largely ignored one of the most pervasive power relations – gender.
Counting matters. As the Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi report puts it: What we measure affects what we do; and if our measurements are flawed, decisions may be distorted…. [I]f metrics of performance are flawed, so too may be inferences we draw.
How can we encourage creativity, even in risk-averse organisations? How can we protect our attention resources?
I listened to two interesting LSE podcasts recently which got me thinking more about creativity following on from a recent blog I posted about the current interest in innovation. Some even suggest the ‘innovation imperative’ is a mega trend.
Guest post for The Guardian
Guest post for From Poverty to Power
Spent the day at a ‘Doing Development Differently’ event recently and, while it offered a great opportunity to meet and hear from fascinating, dedicated, thoughtful people, I came away somewhat disheartened. Why? Because:
Innovation has become a popular word in international development. In Australia today, Bjorn Lomborg helped to formally open DFAT’s development innovation hub innovationXchange, which is designed to ‘identify, trial and scale up successful approaches’. Other donors, including the US and the UK, are also promoting innovation through initiatives like the Development Innovation Ventures programme.
Art and creative expression have become an activist tool and alternative form of advocacy for young women in Fiji.
Through photography, theatre, dance and song, young women are finding new avenues for public expression. These innovative avenues for making their voices heard have great power in a context where women’s mobility and visibility is often constrained by socio-cultural norms.
Guest post for The Guardian
Guest post for the OECD
From the Occupy Movement to Thomas Piketty to current proposals for a new set of Sustainable Development Goals, inequality has emerged as one of the most intractable challenges of our time, and everyone, from activists to academics to policymakers, is talking about it.
Guest post for Development Progress on 'post-conflict' DRC
Guest post for From Poverty to Power
Guest post for The Conversation
Fieldwork in fragile places part 1: the security dilemma
Guest post for The Guardian on UK aid watchdog report
How do relations between political and administrative leaders affect reform?
Taking stock of the research evidence
A toxic blend of complex historical identity politics and short-term elite politicking
Do political dynamics affect NGO legitimacy more than performance?
Bringing politics back into PEA - a new paper with Adrian Leftwich
What hinders more politically nuanced security and justice programming?
The educated, internationally connected women who are changing the way 'development' is done
How governance and sector specialists can help each other understand the politics of service delivery
Is learning to ‘think politically’ like learning a new language?
Why rethink the international consensus on 'quality basic education for development'?
I'm often guilty of describing myself as an 'Africanist' even though my research focuses only on Rwanda and the eastern DRC.
When I teach courses on African security, I focus on the 'important states' – Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, and the 'significant conflicts' – Biafra, the Rwandan Genocide, Sierra Leone, Liberia, the Congo Wars, the Sudans and Darfur.
International leaders and experts have just gathered at the Global Education and Skills Forum to try to defuse the 'ticking time-bomb' of 57 million children not in primary school. But is this focus on the education crisis at primary level too narrow? Amir Jones reflects on new DLP research into education and developmental leadership in Ghana.
One of the most influential and enduring World Development Reports ever produced – Making Services Work for Poor People – is a decade old this year.
Beyond 'adaptability'? In this guest post, Nicole George highlights the work of women leaders who are challenging a narrow adaptation agenda.
It's easy to forget that 'gender' does not mean 'women' but actually means 'gender relations', or the relations between men and women. Gender analysis examines how power is distributed between women and men, how it operates, who can use it and for what purposes. It's best understood as a system which shapes everything around us – what we think, what we know, whose knowledge is privileged, and which values are supported.
When most people hear the term leadership, they think of 'The Leader', of the powerful CEO or the strong President (also, most likely, a man). This may be in part because the body of research into leadership is overwhelmingly dominated by the fields of business or organisational psychology. Or because the processes of leadership are often conflated with the actions or vision of a single leader.
Stefan Wolff argues that, coinciding with the passing of Nelson Mandela, the Elysée Summit demonstrated above all the need for a new generation of African leaders with a similar vision for peace and reconciliation, and the skills and determination to turn it into a sustainable reality. (This guest post was written ahead of the Elysée Summit on 6-7 December 2013, and was first published in The Conversation.)
A new analysis of poverty in India from the World Bank challenges claims that India's reforms and striking economic growth have failed to help the poor and disadvantaged. But the deprivation and inequalities in India (highlighted by Jean Drèze and Amartya Sen in An Uncertain Glory) are stark.
The Developmental Leadership Program (DLP) is an international research initiative that explores how leadership, power and political processes drive or block successful development.
DLP focuses on the crucial role of home-grown leaderships and coalitions in forging legitimate political settlements and institutions that promote developmental outcomes, such as sustainable growth, political stability and inclusive social development.
Thursday 30th March 2017
Putting the concept of Thinking and Working Politically into practice was at the heart of a workshop on 15-16 March attended by more than 200 delegates from the field of international development. Delegates from the government, civil service and local organisations of the host country, Indonesia, were joined by academics, including DLP researchers, and staff from donor organisations and NGOs.
Monday 27th March 2017
DLP findings on the Democratic Republic of Congo were among the topics discussed with with UK diplomats and civil servants at the FCO's Africa Study Day, held at Sandhurst on 21 March. This year's Foreign and Commonwealth Office event was organised by University of Birmingham's International Development Department, home to DLP.