how change happens

Where does political will come from?

Duncan Green - March 2, 2018

Claire Mcloughlin and David Hudson from the University of Birmingham’s International Development Department summarise the Developmental Leadership Program’s recent 10 year synthesis report, Inside the Black Box of Political Will.  When reforms fail, people often bemoan a lack of ‘political will’. Whether it’s failure to introduce legislation promoting women’s rights, not getting vital public services to rural communities, or weak implementation of anti-corruption measures, the shorthand …

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5 common gaps and 4 dilemmas when we design influencing campaigns

Duncan Green - February 27, 2018

I’ve just read the initial proposals of 30+ LSE students taking my one-term Masters module on Advocacy, Campaigning and Grassroots Activism. Their two main assignments are to work as groups analysing past episodes of change (more on that later in the term) and individual projects where they design an influencing exercise based on their own experience and the content of the course (power analysis, stakeholder …

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Tackling poverty and injustice by influencing behaviours and practices: what works?

Duncan Green - January 25, 2018

Ruth Mayne, Oxfam’s senior researcher on influencing, introduces a new discussion paper on behaviour and practice change, written with Melanie Kesmaecker-Wissing, Lucy Knight and Jola Miziniak. This was first posted on Oxfam’s Views and Voices site. Behaviour change strategies can play a vital role in combating poverty, injustice and environmental problems, whether by helping end gender-based violence, improving health and hygiene behaviours, reducing resource-intensive consumption patterns or …

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What did I learn in Myanmar about what Adaptive Programming actually looks like?

Duncan Green - December 15, 2017

I’m still processing a fascinating week in Myanmar. No I wasn’t in Rakhine, in case you’re wondering (separate post on that may follow). Instead, along with aid programming guru Angela Christie, I was exploring what ‘adaptive management’ looks like on the ground, and how it compares to all the fine-sounding stuff repeated endlessly in aid seminars around the world. The lab rat for this was …

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How Oxfam and Save changed US aid on local ownership: nice case study in influencing

Duncan Green - November 30, 2017

I do love it when NGOs are taken by surprise in a good way – getting results in unexpected ways, rather than grinding through the plan. A neat example came up at Oxfam’s recent Evidence for Influencing conference. Here’s what happened. Oxfam America and Save the Children wanted to persuade USAID to do more on ‘local ownership’ of aid. It’s a bipartisan issue in the …

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Winning Ugly and Learning from the Bad Guys: Discussing How Change Happens with the Greens

Duncan Green - November 28, 2017

Had an HCH session with some extremely smart wonks at the Green Alliance last week. I gave my standard talk, focussing on a ‘Power and Systems Approach’. This argues that for activism to be more in line with messy, emergent realities, activists need to change their way of working to give greater weight to: Curiosity – Study history and context; ‘learn to dance with the …

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Kevin Watkins on the power of stigma and shame as a driver of change

Duncan Green - November 23, 2017

Kevin Watkins, a fellow Prof in Practice at the LSE, came along to talk to my students last week (review by Masters student Haisley Wert here). Kevin is a bit of a research and campaigning legend in the aid biz – the brains behind a lot of epic Oxfam campaigns on trade and debt in the early noughties, he went on to write some of …

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What are the politics of our survival as a species? Introducing the Climate Change Trilemma

Duncan Green - November 22, 2017

So a physicist, an anthropologist, and two political economists have lunch in the LSE canteen and start arguing about climate change….. I was (very notionally) the physicist; my other lunchtime companions were Robert Wade, Teddy Brett and Jason Hickel (the anthropologist). Jason was arguing for degrowth and reminded me of the excellent debate on this blog a couple of years ago between Kate Raworth and …

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The Great Leveller: A conversation with Walter Scheidel on Inequality and Apocalypse

Duncan Green - November 14, 2017

When I visited Stanford recently at the invitation of Francis Fukuyama, I also dropped in on Walter Scheidel, an Austrian historian who has taken time off from his main interest (the Romans) to write a powerful, and pretty depressing, book on inequality. Like Fukuyama, Scheidel is a big brain who favours the grand narrative – his book is called ‘The Great Leveller: Violence and the …

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How Change Happens one year on – the stats, the suffering and the power of Open Access

Duncan Green - October 27, 2017

It’s a year to the day since How Change Happens was published (I made the mistake of putting ‘narcissistic peak’ in my diary, and my wife Cathy saw it – never heard the end of it). Here’s what’s happened since. First the stats: the headline figure is that in the first year, the book has had approximately 40,000 readers. Of these roughly 6,000 bought paper …

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