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August 2012

Can Theories of Change Help Researchers (or their funders) Have More Impact?

Duncan Green's picture

Got dragged into DFID this week for yet another session on theories of change. This one was organized by the DFID-funded Research for Development (R4D) project (sorry, ‘portal’). A lot of my previous comments on such sessions apply – in DFID the theories of change agenda seems rather dominated by evaluation and planning (‘logframes on steroids’), whereas in Oxfam, it is mainly used to sharpen our work in programmes and campaigns. But the conversation that jumped out at me was around ‘how do we influence the researchers that we fund to use theories of change (ToCs) to improve the impact of their research?’

It’s risky to generalize about ‘academics’, but I'm going to do it anyway. Let’s apply some ToCs thinking to academia as a target. Applying ToCs to try and understand why academics don't use ToCs may feel a bit weird (like the bit in Being John Malkovich where Malkovich enters his own brain), but bear with me.

Quote of the Week: James Surowiecki

Sina Odugbemi's picture

“But, if recent history has taught us anything, it’s that self-regulation doesn’t work in finance, and that worries about reputation are a weak deterrent to corporate malfeasance.”

-James Surowiecki, Staff Writer, The New Yorker

-As quoted in The New Yorker, July 30, 2012. Bankers Gone Wild

 

 

Surviving the Global Financial Crisis, or Not

Bob Cull's picture

In a recent paper, George Clarke, Gregory Kisunko and I use data from firms in Eastern Europe, a region that was especially hard hit by the global financial crisis, to study which firms survived and how they did it. Our first data source is a panel of firms from 23 countries that were interviewed in 2002, 2005, and 2008-9 as part of the Business Environment and Enterprise Performance Surveys (BEEPS). It allows us to document how financial constraints evolved over time and to see how firm and country characteristics affected those constraints during the crisis.   The second dataset, from the Financial Crisis Surveys (FCS) that were conducted as follow-ups to the BEEPS in six countries (Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Turkey) in 2009,  allows us to look at how changes in access to financing affected firm survival rates during the crisis.

From homemakers to heroines: Guatemalan women promote local development

Robert Valls's picture

También disponible en español,

 How much is a jar of jam worth? A couple of pesos, at most. But for a group of women from a remote Guatemalan village, it’s worth its weight in gold. It has helped them develop as individuals and has made a significant contribution to their income and that of their community.

With a sweet voice that cracks with emotion, Blanca Estela, a single mother of four, tells us that making jam marked a turning point in her life. She is one of 30 women from Nueva Esperanza, a company that makes jams and sauces in San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala. The company has helped the women become independent in a society that continues to be patriarchal. It has also promoted local economic growth.

When I visited the women to make this video, they told me that the Rural Economic Development Program supported by the World Bank enabled them to open new markets and increase their earnings. “This is the dream of a lifetime. We’ve been able to develop as individuals and as businesswomen,” says Esperanza. It has turned these rural homemakers into businesswomen. They now serve as an example for the rest of the women and men in the village.

 

What Can Aid Agencies Learn from McDonalds?

Duncan Green's picture

This is a guest post by Kate Wareing (right), Strategy Development Director for Oxfam and a partner at the ICSF.

Too many of the people reading this blog will have experienced the familiar trajectory of a development project: prove the need, find the funding, define your outputs, deliver against your targets and either find more funding to carry on, or regretfully exit.

There is a fundamental mismatch between what I take to be the objective of development projects (sustainable, transformational change at scale) and a funding environment and model of project design based on a time bound, linear, output driven delivery model. So what lessons are there from elsewhere to help us move beyond this hamster wheel?

Bill Clinton observed that “there is no shortage of good ideas …the real problem is how to scale them”. There also far more people in the world interested in improving the lives of their communities than there are budding social entrepreneurs. Social franchising – taking a successful idea working in one place, distilling its essence and helping someone else in another place to create their own version of it – is one way of trying to break this cycle.

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Nieman Journalism Lab
Deutsche Welle’s trying to use Africa’s mobile-phone boom to spread news by new means

“As the fastest-growing mobile market on the planet, Africa is facing huge opportunities — and distinct challenges — in news dissemination.

By the end of the year, it’s estimated that more than three-quarters of the population will be cell phone subscribers, including in places where literacy rates are low and electricity is unavailable. To better serve that demographic, German media giant Deutsche Welle is using over-the-phone voice technology to deliver news.

No Internet access necessary: Just dial a number to access the program Learning by Ear, an educational show for teenagers that mixes news and explainers having to do with health, politics, the economy, the environment, and social issues.”  READ MORE

Why should governments care about improving their payment programs?

Massimo Cirasino's picture

In Portuguese

In Spanish

Regardless of a country’s stage of economic development, their governments make payments to, and collect payments from individuals and businesses. Financial resources are also transferred between government agencies. These flows cover a wide range of economic sectors and activities, and in most cases, the overall amount of such flows is significant – normally ranging between 15% to about 45% of the GDP.Pensioners can benefit from safer, efficient and more transparent payment programs. (Credit: World Bank)

However, only 25% of low-income countries worldwide process cash transfers and social benefits electronically and this percentage is only slightly higher for public sector salaries and pensions—and this has considerable cost implications. By going electronic, governments can save up to 75% on costs, a significant amount in an era of stretched resources.

My Favorite City. There, I Picked One.

Dan Hoornweg's picture

Leia este post em português
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Sao Paulo Skyline

Anyone with more than one child knows never to answer the question ‘who’s your favorite?’.  Professionals working with cities should also heed that advice. But I was at a dinner party last week and our host demanded we pick a favorite city. “No dessert and no one leaves the table without picking a favorite city,” she insisted.

Toronto, my hometown, certainly has all the necessary ingredients to be among the world’s best, but it is not living up to its potential, yet. Montreal and Vancouver are great Canadian cities, and Calgary and Edmonton are solid innovators. Winnipeg has IISD, a great world-class organization, and good canoeing near-by, but too many mosquitos and long winters.


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