Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What is the future of the corporation? Paul Polak's vision will likely transform your view of what's possible through capitalism and may change the way current organizations view their business models. 

His TED talk details the tremendous shared value that lies within product and system designs for the bottom 90% of the income pyramid.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Youth Unemployment in N. Africa

The African Development Bank in North Africa 2012 report puts the spotlight on the problem of youth unemployment in the region, which is triggered by the global economic crisis and exacerbated by recent political instability.

The report recommends several policy options governments can adopt to address the situation. Some of these include reforming school and university curricula to address mismatch of skills, reducing financial and administrative costs in doing business in the region, and encouraging companies to provide on-the-job training. The report says governments can encourage them via subsidies and tax incentives.

An extract from the Forward below:
Geographically situated at the northern rim of the continent, North Africa (Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia) constitutes a central part of Africa. It is also central to the the history and the daily operations of the African Development Bank (AfDB). The countries of the region were instrumental in the creation of the AfDB more than 45 years ago and are now contributing nearly 20 percent of the Bank’s subscribed capital. 

Since the beginning of its operations in 1966, the Bank Group has committed nearly US$ 17 billion in loans and grants to North Africa, consistently supporting the people of the region in their endeavors to develop and modernize their economies, and improve their living conditions. Producing about one-third of Africa’s total GDP and home to nearly 170 million people, North Africa is today the most prosperous region on the continent and occupies a geopolitical position that goes significantly beyond its economic weight. 

In 2011, North Africa also became the epicenter of social and political change as the Arab Spring began in Tunisia and spread across and beyond the region. The report provides an assessment of recent macroeconomic developments. It also examines two important long-term challenges for the region, namely the causes and consequences of youth unemployment and the importance of moving the region’s exports up the value chain. 

The African Development Bank must learn from the momentous changes currently underway in the region, understand their underlying causes and make adjustments as appropriate to its interventions. This will be done through close consultation with our clients to ensure that we provide the best-possible support to improve the lives of the people in the region. 

In particular, as we finance infrastructure and other projects, we will ensure that rural and disenfranchised regions are developed and integrated, and pay particular attention to the creation of meaningful jobs. Ours is a long-term commitment and we remain engaged in this important region especially during these important times. It is in this spirit that we present this year’s Annual Report for North Africa.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cheese and dogs and pills to kill mosquitoes

We can use a mosquito's own instincts against her. At TEDxMaastricht speaker Bart Knols demos the imaginative solutions his team is developing to fight malaria -- including limburger cheese and a deadly pill.

Bart Knowles is a doctor committed to killing mosquitoes and ending malaria.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

How much does a good evaluation cost?

The cost of rigorous evaluations depends on many things including the question being studied, the context, and the required level of precision. So why do people complain about the cost of studies as a general principle when they vary so much? 

And why discuss costs without considering the benefits of the information they generate? The Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy contributes some evidence about costs to this debate in " Rigorous Program Evaluations on a Budget: How Low-Cost Randomized Controlled Trials Are Possible in Many Areas of Social Policy." Their brief guide describes five well-conducted, low-cost studies which ranged from $50,000 to $300,000. The introduction of random assignment in these studies comprised only a small portion of this cost (between $0 and $20,000) and the studies all produced practical and useful evidence for public policy.

Explaining rigorous evaluations well is part of the challenge ...


... but this video from the International Growth Centre shows it can be done . In the video, Karthik Muralidharan (University of California, San Diego) and Nishith Prakash (University of Connecticut) explain how they measured the impact of a program in Bihar, India that gave bicycles to girls as a way to promote increases in high school enrollment. Though the study results are preliminary, the method seems robust. Muralidharan and Prakash control for other factors by contrasting the change in enrollment for girls over time to the change in enrollment for boys within Bihar. They then go one step further by contrasting that difference with the comparison between girls and boys in a neighboring state that did not have the bicycle program. Smart research design; excellent explanation of results.

Extract update from Center for Global Development.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

USA - Engagement during Austerity

This is an extract from commentary by Connie Veillette and John Norris from the Center for Global Development

Budget concerns will almost certainly put downward pressure on federal spending across a host of government programs for a number of years.  Although some think it is almost heretical to point out the obvious, the international affairs budget will not be immune from this dynamic. In fact, international spending could take a disproportionate hit compared to domestic spending – despite the fact that discretionary international spending is a very small part of the overall budget puzzle.

International affairs, and more specifically foreign assistance, have rarely been popular budget items among the public or on Capitol Hill – despite consistently comprising only about 1 percent of the total federal budget.  Even so, foreign aid and international engagement make good political targets for elected officials out on the stump...

The central question then becomes how do we maintain U.S. global leadership in development and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of aid programs at a time when the international affairs budget is surrounded by so much uncertainty?

Last fall, we set up a bipartisan working group to think through this question and look at how to reorient the international affairs budget during this current period of austerity. The resulting report, Engagement Amid Austerity, is now available.

This report outlines four big ideas as a framework for reorienting the foreign affairs budget:
  • Be more selective and focused on what types of economic and security assistance are provided to which countries.
  • Put PEPFAR programs in upper middle income countries on an increased cost-sharing trajectory.
  • Reform U.S. food assistance programs by eliminating monetization, cargo preference, and allowing more local and regional purchase of emergency food aid.
  • Create an International Affairs Realignment Commission to examine and redesign programs and architecture.
While we are not advocating for cuts to the foreign affairs budget, it is abundantly clear that the United States is spread far too thinly in its assistance programs. The United States currently provides economic assistance to 103 countries and security assistance to 143 countries.  U.S. assistance programs are trying to do too many things in too many places without clear objectives...

We believe that programs can be better focused for greater impact.  In short, we should be directing more resources into fewer countries...   We recommend focusing economic assistance in 53 countries, and focusing security aid in 72 countries.

Others may reach alternative conclusions using this same data, and we have provided as much information to readers as possible so that they can do so...

Full commentary linked here.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Evaluating EU aid: a booming business

An extract from the Oversea Development Institute by Mikaela Gavas:

As the wave of austerity unfolds across Europe and pressure mounts on aid budgets, donors are under increasing pressure to demonstrate accountability, value for money and evidence of effectiveness. Enter the EU… 

Following the assessment of the EU as part of the UK Department for International Development’s Multilateral Aid Review, the EU aid programme has undergone a further evaluation in the UK by the House of Commons International Development Committee (IDC), a peer review by the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) and an evaluation by the Dutch Government (still to be published). And it’s not over. 

The Independent Commission for Aid Impact is also lining up to evaluate the EU. The danger is that instead of making it more effective, too much auditing might become crippling. The IDC inquiry into EU aid, published on 27 April, and the OECD DAC peer review of EU aid, published three days earlier, ran in parallel. The former focuses mainly on the comparative advantage of EU aid, the new direction for EU development policy and future funding. 

The latter report is a lot more comprehensive, analysing the overall policy and strategic framework, the funding, the institutional structures, organisation and management, the procedures and the impact of the EU’s development and humanitarian aid programmes.

More follows..... 

The IDC is right on its key point: the Commission would do well to focus efforts on the poorest countries, and develop new partnerships with the others. EU aid to Upper Middle Income Countries is currently four times the DAC average, and has been widely criticised as being insuf´Čüciently targeted on poverty eradication – not only by the IDC, but also by the DAC in previous peer reviews, and other stakeholders. At the same time, while no one questions the validity of the Commission providing substantial support to countries like Turkey to prepare it for accession to the EU, the question is whether this should be counted as Official Development Assistance.  One for the DAC…

Read the full commentary linked here.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Overview to Human and Institutional Capacity Development - HICD

This is a recent 30 minute "brown bag" lunch presentation provided by Steven J, Kelly, partner with KNO, to an audience in Washington DC.   It is a broad overview of the HICD method illustrating the links to Human Performance Technology.  It followed several other briefings on "What is HPT" and "How to Get CPT Certified" that went into greater detail concerning the models and tools.

The orientation also includes a short discussion of the evolution of HICD over several decades from it's early training roots through to the current holistic performance improvement framework ...

A copy of the slides is available here.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

IFTDO 2012 Certificate of Merit Awarded to KNO

KNO received a 2012 certificate of merit from the International Federation of Training and Development Organizations (link) for our Performance Driven Project Management program in Northern Cyprus. 

Accepted by colleague Christine Marsh CPT with these remarks: 

 "KNO, with headquarters in Slovakia, is extremely honored to be awarded a Certificate of Merit in the work life balance category for 2012. Our pilot program of Performance Driven Project Management, delivered to the Turkish Cypriot Community is northern Cyprus, proved of both immediate and durable value in a territory suffering ongoing effects of historical conflict. 

We especially recognize the funding from the United States Agency for International Development executed through a World Learning capacity Development project that made this program possible. As well, we note the credential approved from the International Society for Performance Improvement allowing for ISPI issued certification of both managers and consultants in PDPM. Thanks again IFTDO!" 

See full report of the program impact here.

Further information on PDPM is linked here.

New Ideas in Development

In this paper published by the Center for Global Development, written as the introduction to New Ideas on Development after the Financial Crisis (JHU Press, 2011), Nancy Birdsall discusses two themes. 

The first is the pre-crisis subtle shift in the prevailing model of capitalism in developing countries—away from orthodoxy or so-called market fundamentalism—that the crisis is likely to reinforce. 

The second theme is better framed as a question than a prediction: will the financial crisis, which is likely to be remembered as marking the end of Western economic dominance, be a trigger for a new twenty-first-century approach to collective action on global problems? 

Whether and how global collective action proceeds on key challenges—coordinated regulation of the financial services industry, climate change management, international migration, and correction of the global imbalance problem that helped precipitate the crisis in the first place—will matter tremendously for most of today’s developing countries. 

A future in which global collective action is effective implies ultimately that the very idea of a “development” agenda (and the implied asymmetry of power and influence between developed and developing countries) will yield to the idea of a shared “global” agenda—across nation-states that cooperate in their own interests and in the interest of shared global stability and prosperity.

Full paper here.