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.

Is it useful/right to see Development as a Collective Action Problem?

Duncan Green - September 4, 2015

The Developmental Leadership Programme is producing a good series of bluffer’s guides Concept Briefs. The latest is on Collective Action (previous ones on Political Settlements and State Legitimacy). They’re just 3 pages, including further reading, and are ideal for anyone who wants to impress in a meeting by bandying around the latest jargon. According to the paper, written by Caryn Peiffer, ‘ A collective action …

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Aid agency ex-staff are a huge wasted asset – how cd we set up an alumni scheme and what wd it do?

Duncan Green - September 3, 2015

I regularly hear from friends who have been cold called by their old university, seeking to extract money from them for the alma mater (apparently hungry current students are particularly convincing). That got me thinking – how come aid organizations don’t do more with their alumni? Because Exfam staff (as we call them) are a wasted asset: many go on to influential jobs elsewhere in …

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I need your help: what to read on the international system; TNCs; leadership?

Duncan Green - September 2, 2015

OK, I need some help from the FP2P hive mind. I am getting to the crunch point on the much-trailed How Change Happens book. I have an October deadline for a consultation draft – you’ll be hearing from me at that point. To get there, I need to do some more background research in a few areas. Could you help me with suggested reading? Three big chunks: …

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Links I Liked

Duncan Green - September 1, 2015

Dilbert explains: Why asking staff in big, cumbersome organizations to be more entrepreneurial is never going to work. Sorry. Useful tips here. Why presenting research & policy recommendations to governments is like discussing ugly babies with their parents Irony watch: Guy in ‘lower taxes, less government, more freedom’ T shirt thanks US government firefighters for saving his house Alex Evans was on form last week: Sweetly …

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Development 2.0, the Gift of Doubt and the Mapping of Difference: Welcome to the Future

Duncan Green - August 28, 2015

Just came across this great post by the ODI’s Arnaldo Pellini, summarizing a recent talk by Michael Woolcock, the World Bank’s Lead Social Development Specialist. Michael is one of the big brains pushing the ‘Doing Development Differently’ agenda. What struck me in particular is the emphasis on the importance of ‘the mapping of variation’, which goes further than previous stuff I’ve read/talked about on just concentrating …

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Is power a zero sum game? Does women’s empowerment lead to increased domestic violence?

Duncan Green - August 27, 2015

I’ve been having an interesting exchange with colleagues at Oxfam America on the nature of power. They argue that empowerment is zero sum, i.e. one person acquiring power means that someone else has to lose it. In a new post, OA’s Gawain Kripke sets out their case. ‘The development community should recognize that women’s economic empowerment is a threat to established power holders. Women’s economic …

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Embracing Complexity – a good new book on systems thinking (and action)

Duncan Green - August 26, 2015

Jean Boulton is a regular both here on the blog and in the corridors of Oxfam. She’s a onetime theoretical physicist turned consultant, and one of her passions is complexity and systems thinking, and their implications for how organizations, including development agencies, go about their work. Now she’s teamed up with fellow lapsed physicist Peter Allen, and Cliff Bowman (a ‘theorist and practitioner of strategy’, …

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5 trends that explain why civil society space is under assault around the world

Duncan Green - August 25, 2015

In the 1980s and 90s civil society, and civil society organizations (CSOs) came to be seen as key players in development; aid donors  and INGOs like Oxfam increasingly sought them out as partners. So the current global crackdown on ‘civil society space’ is particularly worrying – a major pillar of development is under threat. Ross Clarke (left) and Araddhya Mehtta (right) from from Oxfam’s Knowledge …

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Links I Liked

Duncan Green - August 24, 2015

Apologies for the interruption in normal service, but I’ve been away at the wonderful, parched-hinterland-restoring Edinburgh fringe (8 days; 30 shows of every genre from comedy to misery, with some ventriloquism and photography thrown in – highly recommended). Apologies too for the problems with the email alerts – we’re working on fixing that. Anyway, here’s last week’s top tweets. The biggest development story in Europe …

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