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Oil reform in Nigeria: The ups and downs of channel-hopping programme delivery

How much do we really know about what 'thinking and working politically' can achieve – and where it might present dangers – in challenging political and sectoral contexts?

Corruption research: Hunting for glimmers of light in the gloom

Why it can be hard to start a conversation with the people who might know what really works in the fight against corruption.

Opinion by Caryn Peiffer,Rosita Armytage25th July 2017

Decentralisation and the potential for corruption in PNG

Guest post for Devpolicy on findings from a DLP-supported study on decentralisation and service provision.

Opinion by Grant Walton,Ainsley Jones30th June 2017

Do anticorruption messages work? Findings so far and what they could mean for Papua New Guinea

How do anticorruption messages influence people’s views about corruption and about anticorruption efforts?

Opinion by Caryn Peiffer23rd March 2017

#Feminism: Digital technologies and feminist activism in Fiji

Guest post on Devpolicy on DLP work with research partners at University of the South Pacific.

Thinking about women and girls makes development work better for everyone

A look at what happens when gender analysis is placed more squarely at the heart of governance work. (Guest post in The Conversation)

Opinion by Orlanda Ward,David Hudson7th March 2017

Where do inclusive institutions come from? Lessons from Asia

Societies with more inclusive institutions are more peaceful and more resilient, and tend to be better governed - but how do they get there?

Opinion by Alina Rocha Menocal27th February 2017

From functional governance to sustainable peace: Making the space to reflect, learn and adapt

Learning how to balance the technically possible and politically feasible in volatile, conflict-affected contexts.

Opinion by Aditi Haté 22nd February 2017

Gender analysis, and thinking and working politically – bridging the gap

Guest post on Devpolicy  introducing panels at this week's Australasian Aid Conference

Opinion by Chris Roche,Sam Gibson14th February 2017

Don't give up on government

Can the World Bank's flagship World Development Report inspire a good governance revolution that delivers development gains?

Opinion by Dan Hymowitz3rd February 2017

Why are Africa's poor more likely than the rich to pay a bribe for public services?

The poor aren't simply 'easy targets' - they necessarily come into contact with corrupt state officials more often.

Opinion by Caryn Peiffer19th January 2017

The International Budget Partnership: Reflecting on two decades of campaigning for fiscal governance reform

Focusing on budget accountability ‘ecosystems’ and their influence on budget decision-making and implementation.

Opinion by Brendan Halloran20th December 2016

DRCongo: where a decade of failed democracy has exposed the electoral fallacy

It takes more than a fairly-won election to guarantee that the elected will put their citizens first, rather than themselves. (Guest post for Africa at LSE)

Opinion by Suda Perera19th December 2016

'Sticky’ change: What international development can learn from adaptive management

Promoting and sustaining individual behavioural change is as important as building flexibility into development programming.

Opinion by Greg Power2nd December 2016

Overcoming premature evaluation

Sometimes failure is the first stop on the road to success for development programming. (Guest post in From Poverty to Power)

Opinion by Chris Roche15th November 2016

How can a high-growth autocracy become a democracy without derailing growth?

Understanding how to make democratic transitions as economically painless as possible.

 

Opinion by Tim Kelsall28th September 2016

Is developmental patrimonialism a dead end?

The key role of leadership succession rules and effective institutions in sustaining the success of high-growth autocracies.

Opinion by Tim Kelsall27th September 2016

Elections: transformational, or blunt tools of representation?

How do we explain the profound dissatisfaction with the quality of representation now manifest in democracies everywhere?

Opinion by Alina Rocha Menocal8th September 2016

Fragmentation of the Thinking and Working Politically agenda: Should we worry?

Many different paths, but all leading to similar destinations - and adding useful nuance to development thinking and practice.  

Opinion by Thomas Parks29th August 2016

Coalitions for inclusion in Indonesia: communities and government tackling discrimination together

Following up to Luke Arnold on coalitions for disability inclusion in Indonesia, Angie Bexley introduces broader work on the inclusion of six marginalised groups.

Opinion by Angie Bexley22nd August 2016

The challenge of realising Pacific democracies' development potential

Bringing to the fore some of the unique problems faced by the Pacific region.

Opinion by Julien Barbara8th July 2016

From objects of care to controllers of lives: governance, development and disability inclusion

The next step on from a rights-based approach to disability inclusion is to hand over control to those who know best - people with disabilities.

Opinion by Luke Arnold25th May 2016

Corruption? The developing world has bigger problems

More nuanced anti-corruption work should focus on results - and even put up with some corruption if things are working well. (Guest post for Prospect)

Opinion by Alina Rocha Menocal,Heather Marquette26th April 2016

Development - getting our story straight

Replacing the traditional aid narrative with a more grown-up - and more inspiring - development story. 

Opinion by Alex Frankel20th April 2016

Peace processes after civil war: Choosing the right tools for the job

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?

Opinion by Jasmine-Kim Westendorf18th April 2016

Our money, our projects: Demand-driven community development

Emerging lessons from the Central Land Council’s community development program to strengthen Aboriginal people’s participation in mainstream Australia.

Opinion by David Ross,Danielle Campbell15th April 2016

What is transformative leadership?

Structural obstacles to progressive change can only be challenged by sustained pressure from coalitions and social movements. (Guest post in University World News)

Opinion by Chris Roche15th April 2016

The practicalities of change: Positive deviance and land reform in Vanuatu

Anna Naupa's 2016 Adrian Leftwich Memorial Lecture discussed where most transformation happens - in drafting the rules, or in putting them into action.

Opinion by Anna Naupa13th April 2016

It's all about inclusion, but how?

Shifting the focus of development intervention from form to the actual practice and distribution of power. (Guest post for the World Bank Governance for Development blog)

Opinion by Alina Rocha Menocal6th April 2016

The road to transparency in resource-rich Myanmar

Myanmar's resource management transparency process has joined government, business and civil society actors in collective action for the first time.  

Opinion by Taylor Brown1st April 2016

Breaking new ground in parliamentary strengthening

The importance of tailoring parliamentary support programmes to their context. (Guest post for openDemocracy)

Opinion by Alina Rocha Menocal29th March 2016

Anthropology and elites: 'Studying up', politically

The parallels between - and ethical dilemmas of - anthropology's focus on context and international development's ‘thinking and working politically’ concept. 

Opinion by Paul Robert Gilbert10th March 2016

Politics, risk and development: three takeaways

Reflections from last week's Australasian Aid Conference and DLP’s 2016 Annual Conference, both hosted at Australian universities. 

Opinion by Chris Roche,David Hudson19th February 2016

Beyond the limits: can we Think and Work Politically to achieve the SDGs?

How international development agencies need to change to confound the sceptics. (Guest post for the OECD's Institutions and Stability blog)

Opinion by Heather Marquette4th February 2016

Positive deviance and Myanmar's telecoms revolution

A DLP research project looks at the politics of economic reform through the lens of Myanmar's remarkable transformation of its telecoms sector.

Opinion by Niheer Dasandi,David Hudson3rd February 2016

Fiji's Roshika Deo - outlier, positive deviant or simply feisty feminist?

Priya Chattier will speak at DLP's 2016 Annual Conference. Her post here begins a short series on the conference theme of Power, politics and positive deviance.

Opinion by Priya Chattier 1st February 2016

How does politically informed programming shape development outcomes?

A new 'thinking and working politically' community of practice aims to develop practical guidance for development practitioners based on evidence of what works in politically smart programming.

Opinion by Mark Robinson,Heather Marquette,Niheer Dasandi29th January 2016

Education against the odds: the work of a women's coalition in Papua New Guinea

PNG's BPW Port Moresby, a case study for a DLP research project, is an impressive example of local women networking without donor assistance to advance gender equity.

Opinion by Ceridwen Spark14th January 2016

Identifying rebels with a cause (and effect)

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.

Opinion by Chris Roche1st December 2015

Gender in impact evaluation: norms as well as numbers

Sex-disaggregated data tells us little about the gender-related impact of an intervention, argues DLP research fellow Gillian Fletcher, since gender is a process of judgement linked to norms about femininity or masculinity.

Opinion by Gillian Fletcher27th November 2015

Service delivery and state legitimacy: For better or for worse?

DLP research fellow Claire Mcloughlin challenges the widely held assumption that there is a self-reinforcing 'virtuous circle' between service delivery and state legitimacy. 

Opinion by Claire Mcloughlin24th November 2015

The inclusiveness test: making change work

Institutions that are inclusive of the broader population - and not just of elites - are an integral part of peaceful, prosperous and resilient states. Guest post for openDemocracy.

Opinion by Alina Rocha Menocal4th November 2015

The Medellin model: don't forget the political processes

Medellin's transformation has not just been a technical fix. The political changes behind social urbanism are an essential element of understanding what has happened in the city.

Opinion by Kate Maclean2nd November 2015

Colombia's women, tried by war, find new power

Women suffered most in Colombia's long civil war - but they also found a voice. Article in Foreign Policy

Opinion by Alina Rocha Menocal,Pilar Domingo15th October 2015

Is fighting corruption like fighting zombies?

Corruption - a scary word. And our childish, simplistic view of it is hampering efforts to fight it. Guest post in The Guardian

Opinion by Heather Marquette13th October 2015

What are governance advisers missing with 'Political Economy Analysis'?

DLP's contribution to a new-style field guide for development practitioners. Guest post in FP2P

Opinion by David Hudson,Heather Marquette8th October 2015

Developmental leadership: putting inclusiveness first

Only through putting inclusiveness first can fragile states begin to break the dysfunctional societal and institutional patterns that hold back change.

Opinion by Seth D. Kaplan24th September 2015

Masculinity and sexual violence in India

The brutal rape and murder in December 2012 of a 23-year-old student in a Delhi bus has been the catalyst for rapidly evolving activism against sexual violence in India.

Opinion by Martin Rew16th September 2015

International donors - aiding or abetting?

The importance of acknowledging the dilemmas donors may face when giving aid to developmental states.

Opinion by Niheer Dasandi,Lior Erez10th September 2015

Research methods and marshalling messy data: Dear Diary

The useful role a research diary can play in the assimilation and ordering of qualitative data. 

Opinion by Suda Perera2nd September 2015

Corruption: is the right message getting through?

Anti-corruption messages aim to recruit citizens to the fight - but what do they actually hear?

Opinion by Caryn Peiffer12th August 2015

Adding gender and power to the TWP agenda

Gender relations are full-blown power relationships. Yet in the development context, they are too often seen as value-neutral cultural arrangements. 

Opinion by Sally Moyle6th August 2015

The importance of higher education for developmental leadership

Investigating the causal relationship between the national development of higher education and good governance.

Opinion by Michele Schweisfurth28th July 2015

Political settlements: people and the landscapes of power

The inescapable conundrum that politics involves actual politicians is one reason why the subject of political settlements generates so much debate.

Opinion by Alan Whaites24th July 2015

DLP political settlements workshop: reflections

A practitioner considers how the intangible nature of power can be discussed and included in a policy framework. 

Opinion by Astrid Jamar22nd July 2015

Two remarkable transitions: lessons from Oman and Somaliland

What we can learn from areas of stability and calm in regions where near neighbours seem to be struggling to resolve strife.

Opinion by Sarah Phillips20th July 2015

Indonesia and the political settlements trap

When aspirations triggered by development and prosperity outstrip a political settlement's ability to deliver on those expectations, how easy is it to 're-settle' the settlement? 

Opinion by Graham Teskey17th July 2015

What do we do on Monday? Political settlements in theory and practice

Can donors, researchers, policymakers and practitioners all agree on what we mean when we talk about 'political settlements'?

Opinion by Edward Laws15th July 2015

Taking the Results agenda to the next level?

In The Politics of Evidence and Results in International Development, Chris Roche and his fellow editors examine how practitioners have navigated, resisted and used the ‘results agenda’ for more transformational ends.

Opinion by Chris Roche15th July 2015

Inclusive political settlements: who and what gets included?

DLP hosted a day-long high level introductory workshop on political settlements in June. This post introduces a series that showcases the contributions of researchers, policymakers and practitioners.

Opinion by Alina Rocha Menocal13th July 2015

Anti-corruption in Bolivia: fighting greed – or attitudes?

Social attitudes towards corruption may be shaped by beliefs and values, rather than facts.

Opinion by Nieves Zúñiga,Paul M Heywood29th June 2015

The curious case of Indian autocracy and what it tells us about 'thinking and working politically'

The history of India’s largely forgotten shift to autocracy and its return to democracy can tell us much about how change happens.

Opinion by Niheer Dasandi25th June 2015

Development cooperation and fighting corruption: thinking differently

Corruption is an emotive word and covers a huge range of behaviours - yet anti-corruption efforts still follow a one-size-fits-all pattern.  

Opinion by Heather Marquette24th June 2015

More room for politics in the inequality debate?

Inequality, a hot topic since Pikettymania, and the theme of the DLP conference earlier this year, has resurfaced with a vengeance.

Opinion by David Hudson24th June 2015

Does talking about corruption make it seem worse?

Examining the reluctance of those working in development to engage with the public on the complexity of corruption in poor countries. Guest post for The Guardian's Global Development Professionals Network.

Is education a magic bullet for addressing corruption? Insights from Papua New Guinea

This post for Devpolicy unpacks the findings of a new Development Policy Centre/DLP paper.

Opinion by Grant Walton,Caryn Peiffer17th June 2015

Reforming FIFA: what can we learn from experience with (other) corrupt autocrats?

FIFA may not be a developing nation, but international football has its own complex political economy. Guest post for From Poverty to Power.

Opinion by Paul Jackson and Heather Marquette11th June 2015

Gender and power: six links and one big opportunity

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.

Opinion by Diana Koester21st May 2015

Uncounted: has the post-2015 data revolution failed already?

The Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi report tells us that how we measure affects what we do; and if our measurements are flawed, decisions may be distorted.

Opinion by Alex Cobham12th May 2015

Connections, contradictions and the political economy of attention

Thoughts on two sources of new and useful ideas about the deeper structures that might shape creativity.

Opinion by Chris Roche7th May 2015

Cancer and the links between medicine and development

DLP Senior Research Partner discusses what cancer has taught him about the links between medicine and development. Guest post for From Poverty to Power.

Opinion by Chris Roche15th April 2015

Different development: walk the talk

The argument for asset-based approaches to development programming and practice that value communities' capacity, skills and knowledge.

Opinion by Gillian Fletcher14th April 2015

Innovation: transactional or transformative?

It's time to discuss how the word 'innovation' might mean different things to different audiences. 

Opinion by Chris Roche23rd March 2015

Citizens plus engagement: Moving beyond slogans

Give people the ability to engage, and they will change the world. Or will they? Guest post for Governance for Development.

Opinion by Alina Rocha Menocal20th March 2015

Creative expression and women's empowerment in the Pacific

Through photography, theatre, dance and song, young Fijian women are finding new avenues for public expression and activism.

Opinion by Tait Brimacombe19th March 2015

Ghana's democracy is driving great progress in health and education

We still don't know whether democracy drives development - or vice versa. Guest post for The Guardian

Opinion by Alina Rocha Menocal18th March 2015

Communicating anti-corruption messages in development

If donors are allowed to be open about the possibility of corruption, monitoring mechanisms and proportional responses can be planned - and may improve results. Guest post for the OECD.

Opinion by Heather Marquette9th March 2015

When the stars align to tackle inequality

Reflections on the 2015 DLP annual conference.

Opinion by Alina Rocha Menocal18th February 2015

Inequality – the politics behind the policies

On the eve of the 2015 DLP Conference, Deputy Director David Hudson kicks off discussion on the conference theme - the politics of inequality.

Opinion by David Hudson11th February 2015

Parliamentary strengthening: the IDC report

Parliaments - and the political parties that populate them - are the institutions people trust least. Guest post for ODI's Shaping Policy for Development blog.

Opinion by Tam O'Neil,Alina Rocha Menocal9th February 2015

Beyond perceptions of corruption?

Corruption is hard to define without straying into the subjective. It's also difficult to build robust methodologies to investigate it.

Opinion by Caryn Peiffer5th February 2015

Perceptions of women in politics in Fiji: how to accelerate change?

Women are widely seen as entirely capable of taking on political leadership in Fiji. Yet when asked to think about 'leaders', many automatically see men in the role.

Opinion by Rachel Fairhurst,Joanne Crawford20th January 2015

Corruption: unpacking the black box of political will

New thinking on the reasons why individuals engage in corruption - including the pragmatic calculation that, right or wrong, corruption may be the only solution to pressing difficulties. 

Opinion by Heather Marquette,Caryn Peiffer12th January 2015

Time for a grown-up conversation about corruption

To combat corruption, we need to understand the deeper political realities, power dynamics and social structures that perpetuate it.

Opinion by Alina Rocha Menocal9th December 2014

The seeds and roots of change

Leadership that drives genuine, lasting reform is rarely - if ever - about one individual. (Guest post in Governance for Development)

 

Opinion by Heather Lyne de Ver1st December 2014

Authoritarianism, democracy and development

What does the evidence say about whether giving aid to a high-achieving authoritarian regime makes good developmental sense? 

Opinion by Tim Kelsall27th November 2014

Using aid to strengthen Parliaments: fix the car, or worry about the driver?

Parliaments have always been treated as the poor cousins of democracy assistance efforts. (Guest post for From Poverty to Power)

Opinion by Alina Rocha Menocal24th November 2014

Fixing aid: we can't turn off the tap at the first sign of corruption

Much 'petty' corruption is about the poor using what little power they have to stave off destitution. (Guest post for The Conversation)

Opinion by Heather Marquette10th November 2014

Being 'there': Bermuda Triangulation

Fieldwork in fragile places - Part 2: Data difficulties. Adapting methodology to 'messy' contexts.

Opinion by Suda Perera6th November 2014

Being 'there': Reflections on fieldwork in the DRC

Fieldwork in fragile places - Part 1: The security dilemma. Staying safe while collecting the data that matters. 

Opinion by Suda Perera5th November 2014

Corruption: do we target the servant or the paymaster?

Corruption can only be fought effectively with a coherent strategy collectively supported by all actors. (Guest post for The Guardian on UK aid watchdog report)

Opinion by Heather Marquette5th November 2014

Politicians and administrators: conflict, collusion or collaboration?

How do relations between political and administrative leaders affect reform?

Opinion by Niheer Dasandi23rd October 2014

The politics of redistribution: we need you

Share your thoughts on episodes of redistribution that have helped redress inequality, and help us shape new research into the politics behind them. 

Opinion by David Hudson,Niheer Dasandi16th October 2014

Higher education in the post-2015 agenda: proof that it matters

Taking stock of recent research evidence that shows how higher education can feed into political stability and civil engagement.

Opinion by Susy Ndaruhutse11th September 2014

Forgotten South Sudan tangled in factionalism and failed politics

A toxic blend of complex historical identity politics and short-term elite politicking

Opinion by Jonathan Fisher4th September 2014

‘Crows who come in search of dollars’: NGO legitimacy in conflict zones

Do political dynamics affect NGO legitimacy more than performance?

Opinion by Oliver Walton19th August 2014

Political analysis as the practical art of the possible

Bringing politics back into PEA - a new paper with Adrian Leftwich

Opinion by David Hudson24th July 2014

Security and justice – the mismatch between policy and practice

What hinders more politically nuanced security and justice programming?

Opinion by Shivit Bakrania21st July 2014

Pacific power: new femininities and women's leadership in the Pacific

The educated, internationally connected women who are changing the way 'development' is done

Opinion by Ceridwen Spark24th June 2014

Politics shape services; and services shape politics

How governance and sector specialists can help each other understand the politics of service delivery

Opinion by Richard Batley19th June 2014

Transparency and Accountability: learning through collaboration

How can the impact of transparency and accountability work be deepened? 

Opinion by Brendan Halloran10th June 2014

Do donors have realistic expectations of their staff when it comes to 'thinking and working politically'?

Is learning to ‘think politically’ like learning a new language? 

Opinion by Heather Marquette9th June 2014

Bringing Political Economy Analysis in from the cold

Once seen as a 'transformative' tool to change donor thinking, does much PEA now do little to help staff think and work politically?

Opinion by Jonathan Fisher,Heather Marquette6th May 2014

Education, development, and the problem with consensus

Why rethink the international consensus on 'quality basic education for development'?

Opinion by Michele Schweisfurth7th April 2014

What's so 'African' about African leadership?

Does a focus on 'African' leadership obscure the rich and diverse nature of Africa's many states and get in the way of useful lessons from other parts of the world?

Opinion by Suda Perera1st April 2014

How quality secondary and higher education can improve national leadership: lessons from Ghana

New DLP research poses the question of whether the focus of the international development community on primary education is too narrow.

Opinion by Amir Jones25th March 2014

Politics - the problem and solution to poor services?

One of the most influential and enduring World Development Reports ever produced – Making Services Work for Poor People – is a decade old this year.

Opinion by Claire Mcloughlin13th March 2014

Climate change and adaptation in the Pacific Islands: watering down women's security?

Beyond 'adaptability'? In this guest post, Nicole George highlights the work of women leaders who are challenging a narrow adaptation agenda.

Opinion by Nicole George7th March 2014

Medellin - more than a miracle

Bad news sells. And for news editors looking for horror stories to recycle, Colombia's second largest city used to be a reliable source.

Opinion by Cheryl Stonehouse4th March 2014

Gender - the power relationship that Political Economy Analysis forgot?

While most development research is well on the way to embedding gender analysis, PEA - many donors' key analytical tool - largely ignores it.

 

Opinion by Evie Browne13th February 2014

What's in a name? Leadership as more than the 'big men' and 'big women' of history

A more nuanced understanding of good developmental leadership demands a shift away from the conventional focus on 'big' individuals.

Opinion by Heather Lyne de Ver11th February 2014

Peace and security in Africa: from summitry to solutions

Africa needs a new generation of leaders who share Nelson Mandela's vision of peace and reconciliation. (First published in The Conversation.)

Opinion by Stefan Wolff20th December 2013

Somaliland's route to peace

Have donors overlooked the role played in development by secondary education? Reflections on new research on peacebuilding in Somaliland. 

Opinion by Sarah Phillips12th December 2013

Developmental leaders, 'dirty hands', and the dark side of collaboration

Should donors support developmental leaders who gain or keep power through questionable means? 

Opinion by Niheer Dasandi11th December 2013

Welcome to DLP's blog

Welcome to DLP's new blog on politics, power, policy and developmental leadership

Opinion by Heather Marquette10th December 2013

About DLP

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.

Find out more

News

Doing Development Differently workshop - Jakarta 2017

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.

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DLP shares research at FCO Africa Study Day

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.

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