Saturday Morning Reading #14

Here’s your Saturday Morning Reading:

1) From Poverty to Power Special Edition! Duncan Green has been annoyingly good this week so features FOUR times:

i) How can advocacy NGOs become more innovative? Your thoughts please.
Possible answers: be more like Google by stealing more ideas, having more spin offs, having a form of 20% time and much more.

ii) What can would-be African lions learn from the Asian tigers? It’s all about how urban elites see farmers, according to ODI.
Duncan summarises a report from ODI:

Differences in elite visions of development
“The most promising approach, therefore, is to help change the mindsets of African elites by drawing their attention to the fact that successful development elsewhere in the world has been achieved largely through inclusive, pro-poor, pro-rural strategies. This should take precedence over historically less well founded finger-wagging on the importance of good governance, democracy or even free trade.”

iii) Why scenario planning is a waste of time – focus on better understanding the past and present instead
“If we want to pursue agility, flexibility and all those other words beloved of the managerial classes, the key is getting better at picking up the seismic tremors of social or economic change as early as possible, and learning to tell nuanced, intelligent, warts-and-all stories about change on the ground”

iv) Research → Policy; understanding NGO failures and trying to be funny on inequality: conversations with students
When using research to influence policy, you need to plan from the beginning and understand the people you are trying to influence (even if you disagree with them on most things). And if you want to change your organisation to you need have a deeper understanding of its nuances use the advocacy and analysis skills you would apply to external stakeholders.

Plus, keep a look out next week for a debate/wonkwar on migration featuring Paul Collier and Justin Sandefaur

2) ‘The Tyranny of Experts’, by William Easterly; ‘The Idealist’, by Nina Munk | Andrew Jack – Financial Times
[NB: You may need to register to access this article but worth the time investment not only for this article but for regular reading, even if you disagree with much of it]

“Easterly highlights the importance of liberating and incentivising individuals to innovate, rather than parachuting in planners with catch-all solutions that take no account of local conditions. He rightly rolls his eyes at some UN declarations and institutions.”

“Munk recounts how unanticipated external factors and unintended consequences keep getting in the way [of the Millennium Development Villages]. Accountability is in short supply. “It’s just one long monologue from New York,” one Nairobi manager grumbles to her.”

I’ve just ordered my copy of Easterly’s new book to arrive when I’m back in the UK next month. Promises to be a good read. This set of emails between Easterly’s office and the World Bank is also quite funny…

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