Thursday, August 16, 2012

A New Framework for Philanthropic and International Development Collaboration

The Bellagio Initiative is a series of global consultations to produce a new framework for philanthropic and international development collaboration in pursuit of human well being. Advancing well being in a world experiencing scarcity, complex risks and inequities is a key challenge facing philanthropists and development experts.

As the 21st century unfolds, climate change, economic volatility, and social and political polarization will challenge existing models for sustainable development and human well being.

In September, Bellagio will release a report that addresses the key insights from the Bellagio Initiative. Human Wellbeing in the 21st Century: Meeting Challenges, Seizing Opportunities, analyzes the Initiative, presenting major themes and conclusions. The report reveals new ways to promote future wellbeing through strengthened philanthropy and development.
Several videos, compiled from the insights of Summit attendees, begin to point in the direction of some of the major themes of the final report. 

Next steps to act on these themes are already underway: workshops on balancing risk and opportunity; a study of the potential role of philanthropy in innovation ecosystems; work to strengthen North-South and South-South collaboration in philanthropy.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Escaping Capability Traps through Problem-Driven Iterative Adaptation

CGD Working Paper 299
Matt Andrews, Lant Pritchett, and Michael Woolcock with Center for Global Development argue in a recently published working paper that many reform initiatives in developing countries fail to achieve sustained improvements in performance because they are merely isomorphic mimicry—that is, governments and organizations pretend to reform by changing what policies or organizations look like rather than what they actually do

In addition, the flow of development resources and legitimacy without demonstrated improvements in performance undermines the impetus for effective action to build state capability or improve performance. This dynamic facilitates “capability traps” in which state capability stagnates, or even deteriorates, over long periods of time even though governments remain engaged in developmental rhetoric and continue to receive development resources.

How can countries escape capability traps? We propose an approach, Problem-Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA), based on four core principles, each of which stands in sharp contrast with the standard approaches.
  1. PDIA focuses on solving locally nominated and defined problems in performance (as opposed to transplanting preconceived and packaged “best practice” solutions).

  2. It seeks to create an authorizing environment for decision-making that encourages positive deviance and experimentation (as opposed to designing projects and programs and then requiring agents to implement them exactly as designed).

  3. It embeds this experimentation in tight feedback loops that facilitate rapid experiential learning (as opposed to enduring long lag times in learning from ex post “evaluation”).

  4. It actively engages broad sets of agents to ensure that reforms are viable, legitimate, relevant, and supportable (as opposed to a narrow set of external experts promoting the top-down diffusion of innovation). 
Read complete working paper linked here.