Memory, Wisdom and Mentoring: what do practitioners need from academics, beyond research papers?

Spent an interesting, if bleary (the morning after the UK election) day at Birmingham University’s International Development Department last week. We heard from some of the top research going on there on topics such as the Political Economy of Democracy Promotion, or the Developmental Leadership Program, but what really piqued my interest was a new […]

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Thinking and Working Politically: where have we got to?

Spent a day with the TWP crew recently. Chatham House Rules, so no names. Like its close relative and overlapping network, ‘Doing Development Differently’, TWP urges aid organizations to stop trying to impose rigid blueprint/’best practice’ approaches, paying far more attention to issues of power, politics and local context. The driving force has mainly been […]

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Links I Liked

The UK elections produced some good satire (The Book of Jeremy Corbyn was one of my favourites, c/o The New Yorker, and not a bad exec sum of the election campaign) and a lot of graphs. These were two of the most interesting – this election (and perhaps future ones) was about age more than class. […]

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How will we know if the SDGs are having any impact?

As long time readers of the blog will know, I’ve been a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) sceptic since long before they were even agreed. However, I’ve been hearing a fair amount about them recently – people telling me that governments North and South, companies and city administrations are using them to frame public commitments and […]

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Empowerment and Accountability in Messy Places. Need your advice on Nigeria, Pakistan, Myanmar and Mozambique.

My post-book research plans are shaping up, so it’s time to ask for your advice. As well as the work I blogged about recently on Public Authority in fragile/conflict-affected settings, I’m doing some research with Oxfam and Itad on how ‘adaptive management’ plays out in those same settings. Here’s the blurb: ‘There is much hype […]

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Are top academic and aid institutions getting away with bad writing?

Guest post from the ODI’s Caroline Cassidy I almost choked on my porridge last week when I read about the World Bank’s chief economist Paul Romer being sidelined for wanting his team to communicate more clearly. I re-read the article to check I wasn’t missing something, but there it was: Romer had pushed his staff […]

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Links I Liked

New research based on two big data dumps – Swiss leaks and the Panama papers, shows that even in more-progressive-than-thou Scandinavia it’s the very top (0.01%) that use tax havens to avoid paying their share. Conclusion? Inequality is much worse than we thought. Why is France a standing affront to neo-liberals? Lovely writing from Craig Murray, […]

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There was never a better time for the US to leave global climate talks

Op-ed by Tim Gore, Head of Policy, Advocacy and Research of Oxfam’s GROW Campaign Oxfam began campaigning for a global climate agreement in 2007. We have sent teams to every COP and every single negotiating session ever since. Along with many partners and allies, we have held stunts, published papers, generated media coverage, lobbied incessantly […]

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The imaginary advocate, the benefits of Command and Control, and why I’m just channelling Hayek

Continuing the download from the recent LSE-ODI workshop on ‘new experimentalism’ was this thought-provoking description by David Kennedy of the ‘imaginary advocate’, the assumed individual behind How Change Happens and, by extension, a lot of NGO advocacy. Might be a very interesting addition to the endless awaydays, strategic planning processes etc to ask people to […]

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The case against optimism: A Harvard Law Prof critiques How Change Happens

Last week I had the ‘on the psychotherapist’s couch’ experience of having the assumptions behind How Change Happens put under the microscope by two very big brains – Harvard’s David Kennedy and LSE’s Stephen Humphreys. This was part of a joint LSE/ODI seminar on ‘new experimentalism’ (which seems to be the legal studies equivalent of […]

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