thinking and working politically

What can NGOs/others learn from DFID’s shift to ‘adaptive development’?

Duncan Green - July 23, 2015

Got back from holiday last week and went straight into a discussion with NGOs and thinktanks on ‘adaptive development’. Really interesting for several reasons: I realized there’s a bunch of civil society people (100 people at the seminar, plus 50 online) thinking along parallel lines to donors and academics in the Thinking and Working Politically and Doing Development Differently initiatives, but currently very little cross over. …

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What would persuade the aid business to ‘think and work politically’?

Duncan Green - March 4, 2015

Some wonks from the ‘thinking and working politically’ (TWP) network discussed its influencing strategy last week. There were some people with proper jobs there, who demanded Chatham House Rules, which happily means I don’t have to remember who said what (or credit anyone). The discussion was interesting because it covered ground relevant to almost anyone trying to shift an internal consensus (in this case towards …

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Working With The Grain: an important new book on rethinking approaches to governance

Duncan Green - January 6, 2015

Even though it’s relatively short (223 pages), Working With the Grain (WWTG) took me two months to finish, but I’m glad I did. It adds to a growing and significant body of literature on ‘doing development differently’/’thinking and working politically’ – Matt Andrews, Adrian Leftwich, David Booth, Diana Cammack, Sue Unsworth etc. (Like Matt and Adrian, WWTG author Brian Levy is a white South African …

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Local First: an excellent (and practical) counterweight to the more top-down versions of ‘doing development differently’

Duncan Green - December 17, 2014

I’ve been both engaged and excited by a lot of the recent networking on ‘thinking and working politically’/’doing development differently’, which emphasizes the importance of understanding and working with the grain of local context, and a project cycle which replaces ‘The Plan’ with a messy process of trying, failing, learning and adapting (and trying again). But one anxiety I have is that it all feels …

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DFID is changing its approach to better address the underlying causes of poverty and conflict – can it work? Guest Post from two DFID reformers

Duncan Green - October 9, 2014

Aid donors are often maligned for bureaucratic procedures, a focus on short-term results at the expense of longer-term, riskier institutional change, and a technical, managerial approach to aid with insufficient focus on context, power and politics. Are these institutional barriers insurmountable? Can aid agencies create an enabling environment to think and work politically? Tom Wingfield (left) and Pete Vowles (right) from DFID’s new ‘Better Delivery Taskforce’ have been …

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Why ‘political economy analysis’ has lost the plot, and we need to get back to power and politics

Duncan Green - July 10, 2014

Adrian Leftwich (right), a much-loved guru of the ‘Thinking and Working Politically’ (TWP) movement, died in April 2013. But in testament to his importance (and the slow grind of academic publishing), his last paper only came out last month, and it is an important one. Written with David Hudson of UCL (and universally referred to as the ‘Hudwich paper’), From Political Economy to Political Analysis critiques …

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Is ‘thinking and working politically’ compatible with results? Should advocacy ever be done in secret? Big questions at the LSE this week.

Duncan Green - July 4, 2014

This week I found myself on a fun panel at LSE discussing ‘can politics and evidence work together?’  with Mary Kaldor (LSE), Ros Eyben (IDS) and Steven Rood (The Asia Foundation – TAF has a really interesting partnership with LSEto study its use of theories of change). Early last year, I promised to revisit the topic after this blog hosted an epic debate on the …

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Can aid donors really ‘think and work politically’? Plus the dangers of ‘big man’ thinking, and the horrors of political science-speak

Duncan Green - January 30, 2014

Spent an enjoyable  couple of days last week with the ‘thinking and working politically’ (TWP) crew, first at a follow up to the Delhi meeting (nothing earth shattering to report, but a research agenda is on the way – I’ll keep you posted), and then at a very moving memorial conference for the late Adrian Leftwich (right), who is something of a founding father to this …

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