This is a conversational blog written and maintained by Duncan Green, strategic adviser for Oxfam GB, author of ‘How Change Happens’ and Professor in Practice at the London School of Economics. This personal reflection is not intended as a comprehensive statement of the agreed policies of either Oxfam or the LSE.
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Latest Posts

Aid agency ex-staff are a huge wasted asset – how cd we set up an alumni scheme and what wd it do?

I regularly hear from friends who have been cold called by their old university, seeking to extract money from them for the alma mater (apparently hungry current students are particularly convincing). That got me thinking – how come aid organizations don’t do more with their alumni? Because Exfam staff (as we call them) are a […]

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I need your help: what to read on the international system; TNCs; leadership?

OK, I need some help from the FP2P hive mind. I am getting to the crunch point on the much-trailed How Change Happens book. I have an October deadline for a consultation draft – you’ll be hearing from me at that point. To get there, I need to do some more background research in a few areas. […]

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Links I Liked

Dilbert explains: Why asking staff in big, cumbersome organizations to be more entrepreneurial is never going to work. Sorry. Useful tips here. Why presenting research & policy recommendations to governments is like discussing ugly babies with their parents Irony watch: Guy in ‘lower taxes, less government, more freedom’ T shirt thanks US government firefighters for saving […]

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Development 2.0, the Gift of Doubt and the Mapping of Difference: Welcome to the Future

Just came across this great post by the ODI’s Arnaldo Pellini, summarizing a recent talk by Michael Woolcock, the World Bank’s Lead Social Development Specialist. Michael is one of the big brains pushing the ‘Doing Development Differently’ agenda. What struck me in particular is the emphasis on the importance of ‘the mapping of variation’, which goes […]

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Is power a zero sum game? Does women’s empowerment lead to increased domestic violence?

I’ve been having an interesting exchange with colleagues at Oxfam America on the nature of power. They argue that empowerment is zero sum, i.e. one person acquiring power means that someone else has to lose it. In a new post, OA’s Gawain Kripke sets out their case. ‘The development community should recognize that women’s economic […]

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Embracing Complexity – a good new book on systems thinking (and action)

Jean Boulton is a regular both here on the blog and in the corridors of Oxfam. She’s a onetime theoretical physicist turned consultant, and one of her passions is complexity and systems thinking, and their implications for how organizations, including development agencies, go about their work. Now she’s teamed up with fellow lapsed physicist Peter […]

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When did you stop receiving email notifications of this blog?

I know this is a bit like saying ‘raise your hand if you can’t hear me’, but we have a problem. This blog has amassed some 5000 email subscribers who should get an email with each new post, which is great. Unfortunately, a lot of them have been getting in touch to say they no […]

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5 trends that explain why civil society space is under assault around the world

In the 1980s and 90s civil society, and civil society organizations (CSOs) came to be seen as key players in development; aid donors  and INGOs like Oxfam increasingly sought them out as partners. So the current global crackdown on ‘civil society space’ is particularly worrying – a major pillar of development is under threat. Ross […]

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Links I Liked

Apologies for the interruption in normal service, but I’ve been away at the wonderful, parched-hinterland-restoring Edinburgh fringe (8 days; 30 shows of every genre from comedy to misery, with some ventriloquism and photography thrown in – highly recommended). Apologies too for the problems with the email alerts – we’re working on fixing that. Anyway, here’s […]

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Why Al Jazeera will not say Mediterranean ‘migrants’

  The whole piece is powerfully written and well worth reading (h/t Craig Valters) “The umbrella term migrant is no longer fit for purpose when it comes to describing the horror unfolding in the Mediterranean. It has evolved from its dictionary definitions into a tool that dehumanises and distances, a blunt pejorative. It is not […]

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Authoritarianism Goes Global: the rise of the despots and their apologists

The World Bank’s Sina Odugbemi is a stylish and impassioned writer. He also set up a deal to repost the occasional FP2P piece on the Bank’s governance blog, so I thought I’d return the compliment on his latest piece. Wish he’d write more often. Norms, especially global norms, are exceedingly fragile things…like morning dew confronting […]

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Unilever opens a can of worms on corporate human rights reporting

This guest post comes from Rachel Wilshaw, Oxfam’s Ethical Trade Manager Hundreds of millions of people suffer from discrimination in the world of work. 1.3 billion people live in extreme poverty, surviving on less than $1.25 a day. 34 nations present an ‘extreme’ risk of human rights violations. Nearly 21 million people are victims of […]

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