how change happens

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 …

Continue reading

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 …

Continue reading

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’, …

Continue reading

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 Oxfam have just …

Continue reading

Authoritarianism Goes Global: the rise of the despots and their apologists

Duncan Green - August 13, 2015

The World Bank’s Sina Odugbemi is a stylish and impassioned writer. He also set up a deal to repost the occasional FP2P piece on the Bank’s governance blog, so I thought I’d return the compliment on his latest piece. Wish he’d write more often. Norms, especially global norms, are exceedingly fragile things…like morning dew confronting the sun. As more players conform to a norm, it …

Continue reading

Unilever opens a can of worms on corporate human rights reporting

Duncan Green - August 12, 2015

This guest post comes from Rachel Wilshaw, Oxfam’s Ethical Trade Manager Hundreds of millions of people suffer from discrimination in the world of work. 1.3 billion people live in extreme poverty, surviving on less than $1.25 a day. 34 nations present an ‘extreme’ risk of human rights violations. Nearly 21 million people are victims of forced labour. It’s an unusual opening statement for a corporate …

Continue reading

Obama’s Afro-mance: A personal reflection by Irungu Houghton

Duncan Green - August 7, 2015

Irungu is an old mate and a redoubtable activist (this post came in late because he ‘Was off school protecting‎’ – how cool is that?). He was also two seats away from The Man during Obama’s visit to Kenya last week. Here are some thoughts. The excitement began at least three months before Airforce 1 landed on a spruced up and highly secured Jomo Kenyatta …

Continue reading

How do we get better at killing our darlings? Is scale best pursued obliquely? More thoughts on innovation and development

Duncan Green - August 6, 2015

Benjamin Kumpf, Policy Specialist for Innovation at UNDP, responds to guest post by James Whitehead published on 24 June. I found myself nodding to most of James Whitehead’s reflections. Particularly: ”I want to be working with people who are passionate about solving problems at scale rather than magpies obsessed with finding shiny new innovative solutions.” Yet, something seemed to be missing, and something more needed …

Continue reading

How does Change Happen in global commodities markets? The case of Palm Oil

Duncan Green - August 4, 2015

This week’s Economist had an interesting discussion of the change process in the global palm oil industry. I assume all its claims are highly contested, but still, allow me to walk you through it and what it says about how change happens in one bit of the private sector. The basics: a boom industry with a dire track record of deforestation, labour rights abuses on the …

Continue reading

Another good idea from ODI – regular ‘scans’ of hot topics like resilience

Duncan Green - July 31, 2015

The aid and development business is full of tribes – separate ‘epistemic communities’ with their own jargon, shorthands and assumptions, which helps to hermetically isolate them from all the other communities. I try and surf across a few of them, but it’s hard – half the time I have only the vaguest idea what resilience, humanitarian, conflict or livelihoods people are talking about. So I …

Continue reading