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.

Living in interesting times: one year in the life of Oxfam’s Women’s Rights Director

Duncan Green - September 8, 2017

Nikki van der Gaag looks back on her first year as Oxfam’s Gender Justice and Women’s Rights Director. ‘May you live in interesting times’ is a Chinese saying that could equally be a promise or a curse. In the past decade, there can’t have been many more interesting times to be working on women’s rights and gender justice. I began my new post three months …

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Book Review: Norms in the Wild: How to Diagnose, Measure, and Change Social Norms, by Cristina Bicchieri

Duncan Green - September 7, 2017

Alice Evans was raving about this book on twitter, so I scrounged a review copy and read it on holiday (that’s just how I roll). Verdict? A useful resource on an incredibly important topic (see my previous blogs), but sorry Alice, no cigar. Why important? Because norms are the neglected heart of development and social change – how people see themselves and their neighbours, what …

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From Starving Greece in 1942 to Yemen and Nigeria in 2017: Why Total War is still Wrong

Duncan Green - September 6, 2017

Ed Cairns worries that, 75 years since Oxfam was founded, we have returned to an era of heartless total war When a group of people met in Oxford’s University Church on 5 October 1942, they talked about the dire shortage of food in Nazi-occupied countries, and how to raise money and get relief through the Allies’ blockade. They agreed to set up something called the …

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Book Review: How to Resist: Turn Protest to Power, by Matthew Bolton

Duncan Green - September 5, 2017

Full disclosure: Matt Bolton works for Citizens UK, an organization of which I am a big fan, and who my son works for, but if you’re OK with that level of bias, read on. Citizens UK is a fascinating community organization, with a reputation far beyond its relatively small size (currently about 30 full time staff). For a fuller description see its Wikipedia entry.Here’s my …

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Links I Liked

Duncan Green - September 4, 2017

What did foreigners ever do for us? Hamburg Supermarket Edeka decided to remove all foreign items from its shelves to make a point about xenophobia ht Sony Kapoor Is it possible to calculate the return on investment for a research policy project? Here’s one attempt in Indonesia Robin Hood had the right idea: Stephany Griffith-Jones on why the left needs to deliver on the financial …

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What can we learn from 7 successes in making markets work for poor people?

Duncan Green - September 1, 2017

Hi everyone, I’m back from an August blog break, with lots of great reading to report back on. First up, if you’re even slightly interested in how markets can benefit poor people, I urge you to read Shaping Inclusive Markets, a new publication from FSG and Rockefeller. The 60 page document explains their approach to ‘market systems innovation’, which we discussed at an event in …

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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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