‘How Change Happens’ is a pretty popular topic of late on this blog, in case you hadn’t noticed. And not without reason. In a sector that invests $140 billion per year to reduce poverty and injustices, it is not just useful to know whether our bets on what might work or not are based on plausible theories of change; it is essential. Hence the proliferating studies, trials, meta-studies and the like – all seeking definitive answers to what works or not. Important insights are emerging on micro-credit, cash transfers, education and of course deworming. (Insights, it has to be said, not without controversy (see ‘worm wars’). Oxfam’s most impressive foray into all this has been its effectiveness reviews, which are making some important progress in finding ways to be both rigorous and relatively cheap ($20k a pop – a fraction of the cost of a big randomized control trial).
That’s all fine for programmes on the ground, but what do we really know about what works when it comes to the secret plans and clever tricks of influencing strategies, advocacy efforts and campaigns for local, national or global change? Not enough by a long stretch. And yet entire organisations assume that long-term influencing initiatives are the way to go when it comes to structural poverty reduction and transforming entrenched injustices. After decades of service delivery, many international NGOs in particular are approaching structural change by investing more in influencing strategies. But foundations too are shifting their attention – and resources in this direction.
Oxfam for one has given ‘influencing’ the thumbs up (but still only around 15% of overall spend), as a critical route for shifting the social norms, policies and practices that keep people poor and maintain entrenched injustices. Its global ambition is to become a Worldwide Influencing Network. This means the Oxfam confederation will focus its work on “influencing authorities and the powerful, and less on delivering the services for which duty-bearers are responsible”.
So we’ll see more use of power and gender analysis, more long term national influencing plans, and more tools to track their effectiveness. We should see more work that pushes for policy and practice shifts and closer alliances with movements and transnational networks. Oxfam will invest more in digital strategies and in working in emerging centres of power, as well as with ‘non-traditional targets’. Not quite sure yet what that means (I’m new here), but in my book that should involve a range of ‘unusual suspects’ including private sector, faith organizations, traditional authorities, scholars and other tiers of government.
All of this will need a strong grounding in what Oxfam already knows is effective when it comes to influencing – and
making the most of what others have discovered. So we are hiring a senior researcher to lead on this topic.
We’re looking for a passionate, curious and experienced researcher – someone equally at home in theories of political and social change and hands-on evaluation of influencing. We need you to provide state of the art technical advice on monitoring, evaluation and learning in influencing initiatives.
What we’re offering is:
- A team of stellar, fun-loving fellow researchers that care deeply about research for impact and committed campaigners
- A global confederation hungry to do more and better on influencing to tackle injustice
- An amazingly diverse range of topics around which influencing efforts are taking place, including humanitarian crises, women’s empowerment, water governance, the role of the private sector, global climate change negotiations, and national tax haven eradication.
An opportunity to contribute directly to outstanding thought leadership on influencing strategies and how to assess their effectiveness, making first class advocacy and public campaigning the foundation of Oxfam’s work.
You could even get to write the odd guest post for Duncan (if you don’t mind dealing with that kind of editor).
Applications are open until April 4. https://jobs.oxfam.org.uk/vacancy/senior-researcher-on-influencing-and-its-effectiveness–cap0194/3849/description/