Tag: institutions

The Limits of Institutional Reform in Development: a big new book by Matt Andrews

There’s nothing like an impending meeting with the author to make you dig out your scrounged review copy of his book. So I spent my flight to Boston last week reading Limits (sorry the full title is just too clunky).  And luckily for the dinner conversation, I loved it. Limits is about why change doesn’t […]

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Why ‘Why Nations Fail’ Fails (mostly): review of Acemoglu and Robinson – 2012’s big development book

Every now and then, a ‘Big Book on Development’ comes along that triggers a storm of arguments in my head (it’s a rather disturbing experience). One such is Why Nations Fail, by Daron Acemoglu (MIT) and James Robinson (Harvard). Judging by the proliferation of reviews and debates the book has provoked, my experience is widely shared. […]

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How we saved agriculture, fed the world and ended rural poverty: looking back from 2050

As Oxfam’s two week online debate on the future of agriculture gets under way, John Ambler of Oxfam America imagines how it could all turn out right in the end It is now 2050.  Globally, we are 9 billion strong.  Only 20% of us are directly involved in agriculture, and poor country economies have diversified.  […]

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Lant Pritchett v the Randomistas on the nature of evidence – is a wonkwar brewing?

Last week I had a lot conversations about evidence. First, one of the periodic retreats of Oxfam senior managers reviewed our work on livelihoods, humanitarian partnership and gender rights. The talk combined some quantitative work (for example the findings of our new ‘effectiveness reviews’), case studies, and the accumulated wisdom of our big cheeses. But […]

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Agonizing over Aid

Nothing makes me feel more like a woolly liberal than the aid debate. I seem condemned to see both sides of the argument and veer between the ‘aid as salvation’ and ‘aid as imperialism’ camps. With equal vehemence and seemingly absolute certainty, aid pessimists slug it out with aid optimists, often citing the same evidence, […]

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Fixing Failed States

Just finished the book of this title by Ashraf Ghani and Clare Lockhart. It left me with a mixture of excitement and frustration – excitement because it sets out some good ideas on state-building, frustration because it doesn’t quite live up to the title and is sloppily edited, with whole chunks repeated verbatim, wandering narrative […]

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