February 2014

What do White House Policy Makers want from Researchers? Important survey findings.

Duncan Green - February 28, 2014

Interesting survey of US policymakers in December’s International Studies Quarterly journal. I’m not linking to it because it’s gated, thereby excluding more or less everyone outside a traditional academic institution (open data anyone?) but here’s a draft of What Do Policymakers Want From Us?, by Paul Avey and Michael Desch. The results are as relevant to NGO advocacy people trying to influence governments as they are …

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How is India’s iconic NREGA social protection scheme doing? Interesting research from Tamil Nadu.

Duncan Green - February 27, 2014

Some social programmes act as honey pots for busy bee researchers. A few years ago Brazil’s Bolsa Familia was the subject of choice, but it seems to have been overtaken by India’s Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) which has researchers all over it. A Global Insights paper from the University of Sussex has some great insights into the programme, based on a …

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What Makes Big Corporations Decide to Get on the Right Side of History?

Duncan Green - February 26, 2014

For the past year, Oxfam’s Erinch Sahan (right) has been working on the ‘Behind the Brands’ campaign. Here he reflects on some successes and lessons from his time in the advocacy trenches. On 19 May 1997, the CEO of BP, John Browne, made a speech at Stanford University. Browne: “We must now focus on what can and what should be done, not because we can be …

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How to fix fragile states? The OECD reckons it’s all down to tax systems.

Duncan Green - February 25, 2014

‘Over-generous tax exemptions awarded to multinational enterprises often deprive fragile states of potential revenues that could be used to fund their most pressing needs.’ Another broadside from rent-a-mob? Nope, it’s the ultra respectable OECD in its Fragile States 2014 report. After years of growth, aid to fragile states started to fall in 2011, so the report centres around an urgent call for OECD member states …

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World Protests 2006-13: Where? How big? About what? Did they achieve anything?

Duncan Green - February 24, 2014

Following on from last week’s food riots post, some wider context. The news is full of protests (Kiev, Caracas, Cairo), but to what extent is it really ‘all kicking off everywhere’ as Paul Mason claims? Just come across a pretty crude, but thought-provoking paper that tries to find out. For World Protests 2006-13, Isabel Ortiz, Sara Burke, Mohamed Berrada and Hernan Cortes scoured online media (international …

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How should INGOs prepare for the coming disruption? Reading the aid/development horizon scans (so that you don’t have to)

Duncan Green - February 21, 2014

Gosh, INGOs do find themselves fascinating. Into my inbox plop regular exercises in deep navel-gazing –both excessively self-regarding and probably necessary. They follow a pretty standard formula: Everything is changing. Mobile phones! Rise of China! Everything is speeding up. Instant feedback! Fickle consumers! Shrinking product cycles! You, in contrast are excruciatingly slow, bureaucratic and out of touch. I spit on you and your logframes. Transform …

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What do we know about food riots and their link to food rights? Some interesting new findings from IDS

Duncan Green - February 20, 2014

Went off to a rain-drenched Institute of Development Studies last week for one of those great workshops where a group of country researchers come together with case studies on a similar issue and then swap ideas on what general conclusions are emerging. The topic was the rash of food riots that struck 30+ countries in the aftermath of the 2008 food price spike, marking the …

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Somaliland v Somalia: great new paper on an extraordinary ‘natural experiment’ in aid and governance

Duncan Green - February 19, 2014

Could someone please clone Sarah Phillips? The University of Sydney political scientist has a great new Developmental Leadership Program (DLP) paper out on Somaliland, following her excellent paper a few years ago on Yemen. Political Settlements and State Formation: The Case of Somaliland may not sound like much of a page turner, but it is brilliant. It explores one of those natural experiments beloved of …

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The Aid trilemma: are complexity, scale and measurability mutually incompatible?

Duncan Green - February 18, 2014

I’ve been reflecting on Owen Barder’s recent post on the tensions for aid agencies between wanting to go to scale, and acknowledging that lasting development solutions have to emerge from discussions among local actors, based on local context. Seems to me we have something of an aid trilemma here – I would add in attribution to the mix as a third element. You can have …

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Government to Government trade – a new development issue, but is it threat or opportunity?

Duncan Green - February 17, 2014

I have a love-hate relationship with The Economist – hate its lazy, evidence-free, anti-state, privatizing ‘priors’, but love the range of thought-provoking new angles, and its coverage of development. In general, the further it gets from economics, the more I like it. Usually I just tweet links to the good stuff, but last week’s piece on ‘government to government trade’ deserves special attention. The article …

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