Guest post for Devpolicy on findings from a DLP-supported study on decentralisation and service provision.
How do anticorruption messages influence people’s views about corruption and about anticorruption efforts?
A look at what happens when gender analysis is placed more squarely at the heart of governance work. (Guest post in The Conversation)
Societies with more inclusive institutions are more peaceful and more resilient, and tend to be better governed - but how do they get there?
Learning how to balance the technically possible and politically feasible in volatile, conflict-affected contexts.
Guest post on Devpolicy introducing panels at this week's Australasian Aid Conference
The poor aren't simply 'easy targets' - they necessarily come into contact with corrupt state officials more often.
Focusing on budget accountability ‘ecosystems’ and their influence on budget decision-making and implementation.
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)
Promoting and sustaining individual behavioural change is as important as building flexibility into development programming.
Understanding how to make democratic transitions as economically painless as possible.
How do we explain the profound dissatisfaction with the quality of representation now manifest in democracies everywhere?
Many different paths, but all leading to similar destinations - and adding useful nuance to development thinking and practice.
Following up to Luke Arnold on coalitions for disability inclusion in Indonesia, Angie Bexley introduces broader work on the inclusion of six marginalised groups.
Bringing to the fore some of the unique problems faced by the Pacific region.
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.
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)
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?
Emerging lessons from the Central Land Council’s community development program to strengthen Aboriginal people’s participation in mainstream Australia.
Anna Naupa's 2016 Adrian Leftwich Memorial Lecture discussed where most transformation happens - in drafting the rules, or in putting them into action.
The importance of tailoring parliamentary support programmes to their context. (Guest post for openDemocracy)
The parallels between - and ethical dilemmas of - anthropology's focus on context and international development's ‘thinking and working politically’ concept.
How international development agencies need to change to confound the sceptics. (Guest post for the OECD's Institutions and Stability blog)
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.
The need for parliamentary strengthening has never been more urgent, since parliaments - and the political parties that populate them - are the institutions people trust least. (Guest post for ODI's Shaping Policy for Development blog)
(First published as a guest post for the ODI's Development Progress blog)
Women are widely seen as entirely capable of taking on political leadership in Fiji; however, when asked to think about 'leaders', the public imagination automatically sees a man in the role.
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.
Parliaments have always been treated as the poor cousins of democracy assistance efforts. (Guest post for From Poverty to Power)
Much 'petty' corruption is about the poor using what little power they have to stave off destitution. (Guest post for The Conversation)
Fieldwork in fragile places - Part 1: The security dilemma. Staying safe while collecting the data that matters.
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)
How do relations between political and administrative leaders affect reform?
Taking stock of recent research evidence that shows how higher education can feed into political stability and civil engagement.
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
How can the impact of transparency and accountability work be deepened?
Is learning to ‘think politically’ like learning a new language?
Once seen as a 'transformative' tool to change donor thinking, does much PEA now do little to help staff think and work politically?
Why rethink the international consensus on 'quality basic education for development'?
New DLP research poses the question of whether the focus of the international development community on primary education is too narrow.
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.
While most development research is well on the way to embedding gender analysis, PEA - many donors' key analytical tool - largely ignores it.
A more nuanced understanding of good developmental leadership demands a shift away from the conventional focus on 'big' individuals.
Africa needs a new generation of leaders who share Nelson Mandela's vision of peace and reconciliation. (First published in The Conversation.)
Should donors support developmental leaders who gain or keep power through questionable means?
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.