Duncan Green

This is a conversational blog written and maintained by Duncan Green, strategic adviser for Oxfam GB and author of ‘From Poverty to Power’. This personal reflection is not intended as a comprehensive statement of Oxfam's agreed policies.

What researchers say v what they mean

Duncan Green - August 10, 2017

This handy translation device from Claire Hutchings is reminiscent of an FP2P all time favourite ‘what Brits say v what they mean’. On the left, what they say; on the right, what they mean. Enjoy (and send me other similar exercises). And with that, I’m heading off on holiday – two weeks in the Scottish rain, including a week replenishing my parched hinterland at the …

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How might a systems approach change the way aid supports the knowledge sector in Indonesia?

Duncan Green - August 9, 2017

For some reason, the summer months seem to involve a lot of cups of tea (and the occasional beer) with interesting people passing through London, often at my second office in Brixton. One of last week’s conversations was with Arnaldo Pellini, who has been working for ODI on a big ‘knowledge sector initiative’ in Indonesia. Five years in, the team is thinking less in terms …

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Capacity development is hard to do – but it’s possible to do it well

Duncan Green - August 8, 2017

Lisa Denney’s gloomy take on the state of capacity building in the aid industry prompted quite a few comments and offers of blog posts, including this from Jon Harle of INASP, on organization that ‘strengthens the capacity of individuals and institutions to produce, share and use research and knowledge, in support of national development.’ Lisa Denney’s recent blog – and Arjan de Haan and Olivia …

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Links I Liked

Duncan Green - August 7, 2017

Geeks Franziska Mager and David Evans contributed their favourite cartoons about control groups (really) ‘Information does not lead to political accountability’. Important null result from some serious research raises big questions for transparency activists Best of luck to USAID’s new boss, Mark Green (no relation). Here’s a handy briefing for him on why the aid budget matters and a nice example of what his agency …

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Looks like the NGOs are stepping up on ‘Doing Development Differently’. Good.

Duncan Green - August 4, 2017

For several years I’ve been filling the ‘token NGO’ slot at a series of meetings about ‘doing development differently’ (DDD) and/or ‘thinking and working politically’ – networks largely dominated by official aid donors, academics, thinktanks and management consultants (good overview of all the different initiatives here). Periodically, a range of NGOs appear on the scene, and according to ODI and Care are doing plenty on …

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NBA Superteams and Inclusive Growth: Doing Private Sector Development Differently

Duncan Green - August 3, 2017

Guest post from Kartik Akileswaran of the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (which is what the Africa Governance Initiative now calls itself) For as long as I can remember, National Basketball Association (NBA) fans, analysts, and team owners have worried that the dominance of a few teams would hold back the league. Many have advocated for rule changes to counteract this trend—but is “leveling the playing …

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Of Course Research Has Impact. Here’s how.

Duncan Green - August 2, 2017

Irene Guijt, Oxfam GB’s head of research, puts me straight after my recent scepticism about the impact of research. And I don’t mean personal impact on CVs. At the annual Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) impact award ceremony in Westminster, I got a glimpse of the best of what that Research Council has to offer society. I was deeply impressed (even if prize winners …

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Where do South Africa’s activists go from here? A Cape Town conversation

Duncan Green - August 1, 2017

My last morning in Cape Town last week was spent deep in discussion with three fine organizations – two local, one global. The global one was the International Budget Partnership, who I’ve blogged about quite a lot recently. The local ones were very different and both brilliant: the Social Justice Coalition and the Development Action Group. SJC favours a largely outside track, famously organizing local …

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Links I Liked

Duncan Green - July 31, 2017

Washington’s corridors of power are looking empty in Donald Trump’s unfilled government: according to The Economist, ‘His lethargy, not Democratic obstinacy, is to blame’. Finding positive outliers on anti-corruption is surprisingly hard, because everyone disputes success stories. Brilliant from Caryn Pfeiffer What do India’s poor have to say about poverty and aid? First of an annual 10 country ‘Voices of the Poor’ exercise by Globescan …

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Aidspeak: some of your best/worst responses to my call for examples

Duncan Green - July 28, 2017

Well you took a few hours to get started in response to Tuesday’s post, but then the floodgates opened and an avalanche of bullshit crashed over me via blog comments and tweets (and yes, mixed metaphors were discussed). Cheers guys. Within the aid business, a few patterns appear: Management obfuscation which sheds almost no light on what is actually being discussed This from ‘NGO worker …

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