Topic: NGOs

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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What does Feminist Social Innovation look like?

Guest post from Chloe Safier In the global development world, there are a lot of conversations about social innovation and (separately) a lot of discussions about feminist approaches to development and women’s rights. Social innovation labs, incubators and accelerators are popping up everywhere, from San Francisco to Beirut to Delhi. Major development actors like the […]

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‘I don’t need a Plan, I need a better Radar’ – how can we rethink Strategic Planning?

I was in Washington this week helping the International Budget Partnership think about its future direction. There’s a certain rhythm to these exercises – some research on external trends, consultation with partners and staff, maybe bring in some outside facilitators, then sit down and say ‘so what should we be doing differently?’ These days, there is […]

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Draft Paper on Adaptive Management in Oxfam – all comments welcome

With a few important exceptions, large international NGOs have been pretty absent from the global conversation about ‘Doing Development Differently’, but are they doing it anyway and just skipping the meetings? To find out, a group of LSE Masters Students analysed a bunch of case studies of Oxfam programmes claiming to pursue ‘adaptive management’ approaches. […]

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Street Spirit, an anthology of protest that both moved me to tears and really bugged me

Street Spirit: the Power of Protest and Mischief, by Steve Crawshaw is a book that left me deeply confused. As I read it on a recent train ride, I experienced an alarming level of cognitive dissonance. The uplifting stories of resistance, courage, uprising, revolution etc moved me to tears (something I can best describe as […]

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Why Faith-Based Organizations are particularly well suited to ‘Doing Development Differently’

Last week, I went in to talk How Change Happens with a bunch of CEOs and other senior staff from major Catholic aid agencies, including CAFOD, the first development outfit foolish enough to give me a job back in the 90s. We covered a lot of the standard ground – the results agenda, private sector […]

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Making Change in Closed Political Environments – what works?

I’m a big fan of the International Budget Partnership, which manages both to get down and dirty in supporting national campaigns and movements for budget transparency, and to step back and spot the broader patterns of politics and change. Over the next few months I’m going to be helping them think through their strategy so […]

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What is new/the same about the world’s new civic activist movements?

Bumped into Tom Carothers in the DFID foyer the other day, and he handed me a copy of a fascinating new Carnegie Endowment Report, Global Civic Activism in Flux. Late last year, Carnegie set up a Civic Activism Network that brought together 8 national experts on new forms of citizen activism in Brazil, Egypt, India, […]

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Why is so little being done to stop traffic killing 1.25m people per year, and costing 3% of global GDP? Good new paper.

Part of my purpose in life is to puff good new papers from the ODI, and it’s been a while, so here goes. Work in the aid business and you regularly hear grisly tales of deaths, injuries and near misses of colleagues and partners on the roads of the developing world. In Peru, I once […]

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Social Accountability from the Trenches: 6 Critical Reflections

Guest post by Gopa Kumar Thampi of The Asia Foundation There is a clearly a surge in social accountability initiatives across the globe today. From informal expressions at the grassroots to entrenched voices in corridors of power, the social accountability multiverse has become stronger and diverse. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that we are […]

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How could a ‘life cycle analysis’ help aid organizations engage better with the public?

Following on the post (and great comments) about whether Oxfam should get serious on changing social norms, I’ve been thinking about a ‘life cycle analysis’ approach to INGOs’ engagement with the public. The starting point is that at different ages, people have different assets and constraints (eg disposable time, cash, openness to new ideas). Obviously, […]

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