Theories of Change en Ubuntu: How social networks help explain theories of change <div class="field field-name-body field-type-text-with-summary field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><h4> This is the second post in a series of six in which <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Michael Woolcock</a>, Lead Social Development Specialist at the World Bank and lecturer in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, discusses critical ideas within the field of <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Social Development</a>.</h4> There is a Nguni-Bantu phrase, “I am because we are” which arises from the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Ubuntu philosophy</a> of community. Liberian peace activist <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Leymah Gbowee</a> translated it in her TED Talk as “I am what I am because of who we all are.” At its most basic understanding, Ubuntu means “human kindness toward others,” but its meaning is much greater, expressing ideas of connection and community. It is a concept known to cultures around the world. The Maori of New Zealand say “We all in the same boat”, and the North American Sioux tribe believes that, “With all things and in all things, we are relatives.” Globally, cultures around the world know and use the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child”. <br /><br /> Modern philosophers have taken these axioms and developed social science research to explore them. <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Social capital</a> refers to the interpersonal interactions we all participate in to create economic and cultural resources. When social capital is functioning well, social relations are marked by reciprocity, trust and cooperation and individuals can produce goods and services not just for themselves, but for the common good.  Relatedly, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">social cohesion</a> describes the degree to which a society works toward the wellbeing of all its members, supports inclusive practices, and allows individuals to work for upward mobility.<br /><br /> These theories are essential to international development because, as <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Michael Woolcock</a> points out, “Development changes who people interact with, and the terms with which people interact.”  Whether you think of these ideas as Ubuntu or social capital, they encompass the way in which people deal with power structures, like the state, and with other people who are not like them. <br />   <div> <div class="asset-wrapper asset aid-358 asset-video"> <strong > Michael Woolcock </strong> <div class="content"> <div class="field field-name-field-asset-video-file field-type-emvideo field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><object type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="640" height="360" data="//"> <param name="movie" value="//" /> <param name="wmode" value="transparent" /> <param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /> </object> </div></div></div></div> </div><br />  </div> </div></div></div> Wed, 05 Apr 2017 19:05:00 +0000 Roxanne Bauer 7683 at What determines whether/how an organization can learn? Interesting discussion at DFID <div class="field field-name-body field-type-text-with-summary field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><p> <img alt="" height="280" src="" style="float:right" title="" width="351" />I was invited along to DFID last week for a discussion on how organizations learn. There was an impressive turnout of senior civil servents – the issue has clearly got their attention. Which is great because I came away with the impression that they (and Oxfam for that matter) have a long way to go to really become a ‘learning organization’.</p> <p> So please make allowances in what follows for all the warm, cuddly areas of mutual agreement – I’m going to focus on the areas of disagreement, which are inevitably the most thought-provoking.</p> <p> To mean anything, learning requires a change both in ideas and behaviours. So what were the theories of change that underpinned the approaches to learning in the room? I found it hard to pin down exactly – they seemed mostly tacit – but a lot of what I heard reminded me of the discussion at <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Twaweza</a> a couple of years ago. For many present, the tacit theory of change seems to be ‘knowledge → learning → changed behaviours → changed outcomes’. Yeah right.</p> <p> What we realized at Twaweza was that ‘it’s all in the arrows’. You need to unpack the assumptions and think about what needs to be in place for that theory of change to have any chance of resembling what happens in practice.</p> </div></div></div> Tue, 21 Feb 2017 19:10:00 +0000 Duncan Green 7635 at Does “Rational Ignorance” make working on transparency and accountability a waste of time? <div class="field field-name-body field-type-text-with-summary field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><p> <em><img alt="" height="150" src="" style="float:right" title="Paul O'Brien" width="150" />Guest post from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Paul O’Brien</a>, Vice President for Policy and Campaigns, Oxfam America (gosh, they do have august sounding job titles, don’t they?)</em></p> <p> As the poorest half of the planet sees that <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">just 62 people</a> have more wealth than all of them, collective frustration at <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">extreme inequality</a> is increasing.  To rebalance power and wealth, many in our community are turning to transparency, accountability, participation and inclusion.  Interrogate that “<a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">development consensus</a>,” however, and opinions are fractured over the benefits and costs of transferring power from the haves to the have-nots.</p> <p> <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><img alt="Social Media Information Overload" height="255" src="" style="float:left" title=" Mark Smiciklas" width="280" /></a>In truth, our theories of change often diverge.  Most development organizations may agree on the need to advocate for more Investment, Innovation, Information, strong Institutions and Incentives, but some organizations are genuinely committed to only one of those “I’s”, and that can be problematic:  Oxfam often finds itself choosing and moving between the relentless positivity of politically benign theories of change (e.g. we just need more “investment” or “innovation”), the moderation of those who focus exclusively on transparent “information” with no clear pathway to ensure its political relevance, and the relentless negativity of activists that think the only way to transform “institutions” or realign the “incentives” of elites is to beat them up in public.</p> <p> Oxfam’s challenge is to be both explicit in our theory of change and show sophistication and dexterity in working across that spectrum.  If Oxfam’s <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">theory of change</a> is based on <em>a citizen-centered approach to tackling global systemic challenges</em> like extreme inequality, then our opportunity may be engaging the “<a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">rational ignorance</a>” of citizens and consumers.<br />  </p> </div></div></div> Mon, 28 Mar 2016 18:25:00 +0000 Duncan Green 7351 at Blog post of the month: If using ‘Theories of Change’ cannot transform the way you operate, why bother? <div class="field field-name-body field-type-text-with-summary field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><h4> Each month People, Spaces, Deliberation shares the blog post that generated the most interest and discussion. In November 2015, the featured blog post is "<a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">If using ‘Theories of Change’ cannot transform the way you operate, why bother?</a> " by <a href="" title="View user profile." rel="nofollow">Suvojit Chattopadhyay</a> .</h4> <div style="margin:0px; padding:0px; border:0px currentColor; vertical-align:baseline"> <div style="margin:0px; padding:0px; border:0px currentColor; vertical-align:baseline"> <div style="margin:0px; padding:0px; border:0px currentColor; vertical-align:baseline"> <div style="margin:0px; padding:0px; border:0px currentColor; vertical-align:baseline"> <p> <img alt="Learning computer skills" height="186" src="" style="padding:2px; border:1px solid rgb(204, 204, 204); vertical-align:bottom; max-width:none; float:right" title="" width="280" />In a new (and commendably short) <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">paper</a>, Craig Valters advocates ‘modest radicalism’ in the use of Theories of Change (ToC) as an approach to improving reflection and learning in the development sector. In this paper, Craig reflects on the role of the ToC in the context of the ‘results agenda’ and suggests <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">four principles</a> that could help development organisations develop knowledge and improve practice: Focus on processes; Prioritise learning; Be locally-led; and ‘Think compass, not map’. Do read the full paper!</p> <p> In this post, I share some additional thoughts on the use of ToCs and how they might be improved. I start with two problems in the way we do things.</p> <ul><li> In development, failures are hard to detect: Often, organisations that fail find ways to mask failure – by either refusing to acknowledge failure, finding external factors, or moving on to a different desk officer/donor/location. So within the aid industry, we have a peculiar situation where it is real hard to fail – or at least, it is hard to know when a project has failed.</li> <li> It’s harder still to ensure that projects that fail face significant consequences of failure: Organisations that implemented the failed projects should be required to make significant changes to key aspects of design or management.</li> </ul></div></div></div> Fri, 04 Dec 2015 21:29:00 +0000 Suvojit Chattopadhyay 7235 at Reflecting on being radical: Integrating theories of change as practice <div class="field field-name-body field-type-text-with-summary field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><p> <img alt="Ms. Gurugalpola, teaches parents and children about dental hygiene" height="187" src="" style="float:left" title="" width="280" />Recently, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Craig Valters</a> published <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">new work on theories of change.</a> He calls not for a new tool (product) but for a more careful approach (process) to practicing and engaging in development. That is, changing the state of the world for someone. And learning from it. And, ideally, communicating that learning. (Craig is pessimistic that we are near actually ushering in a <em>learning agenda</em> to replace the <em>results agenda</em>. On this, I hope he is wrong.)<br />  <br /> In this post, I echo and expand on the idea of theories of change as allowing “space for critical reflection” (p. 4) and push back slightly on two of the outlined ‘key principles’ of a theory of change approach: being ‘locally led’ and thinking ‘compass, not map.’ I also include some of the comments Craig made on the original version of this post, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">here</a>.</p> <p> I have two disclaimers, given points raised both in the paper and in <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Suvojit’s</a> follow-up blog. The first is a musing, though I have adopted the <em>theory of change</em> language along with the herd. I wish we could still revise it to <em>hypotheses of change</em> or <em>ideas of change</em> or <em>stuff that might matter because we thought hard about it, looked at what had been done before, and talked to people about what could be done now (</em>or something else catchier but far more tentative, humble, and open to updating than 'theory'). Alas. On the brighter side, Craig notes that, at least, “<em>theory</em> implies we have to think really hard about it, even if what we end up with is not a theory in the social science sense of the word.”<br />  <br /> The second is a confession. I really like boxes and arrows<span>— </span>not as the definitive product associated with a theory of change but as some means of organizing ideas that people can stand around, look at, point to, and ask, “<em>have we learned anything about how this arrow really works?</em>” While I don’t want to foist the need for a visual on anyone, especially if it is just going to end as a bad flowchart, I feel I should at least lightly advocate that a visual can be a useful tool for learning and may be friendlier to revisit than a lengthy narrative, and it's usually prettier. In his follow-up responses, Craig echoes that a diagram, no matter how pretty, “is not in itself a Theory of Change.” I concur.<br />  </div></div></div> Wed, 28 Oct 2015 18:39:00 +0000 Heather Lanthorn 7202 at 3 big problems with how we think about results and development <div class="field field-name-body field-type-text-with-summary field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><h4> How useful is 'focusing on results' for development work?<span> </span>It may make an organization more cost-efficient but not necessarily more effective as it is usually unrealistic, time-consuming and misleading.  </h4> <p> <img alt="Justine Greening sees the building of Kerry Town Ebola treatment centre in Sierra Leone" height="193" src="" style="float:left" title="" width="280" />How do donors aim for “results” without setting up a <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">counterbureaucracy</a> that disrupts rather than encourages good development programs?</p> <p> A recent <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Independent Commission for Aid Impact</a> <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">report</a><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"> </a>has taken the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">U.K. Department for International Development</a> to task for doing just that, which in turn demands a serious reconsideration of how DfID thinks about results and accountability.</p> <p> Of course, these<a href="" rel="nofollow"> </a><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">critiques</a> are hardly new. However this isn’t another nongovernmental organization or academic report slating the “<a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">results agenda</a>,” but an independent body that has specifically been set up to ensure the effectiveness of aid and — based on 44 previous reports — is providing evidence about how the results agenda unfolds in practice.</p> <p> In a nutshell, ICAI argues that DfID today knows better than ever before when and where taxpayers’ money is being spent, but not what that spending actually achieves. ICAI found that the results agenda has tended to prioritize short-term economy and efficiency over long-term, sustainable impact. It has brought “greater discipline” and “greater accountability for the delivery of aid” but also a focus on quantity of results over quality.</p> <p> Not everything ICAI has to say is bad news; but most of it is. The ICAI findings undoubtedly hold broader relevance for other donors who are taking a similar approach to their result agenda.<br />  </p> </div></div></div> Wed, 07 Oct 2015 18:02:00 +0000 Craig Valters 7180 at What Happens when 20 Middle East Decision Makers Discuss Theories of Change? <div class="field field-name-body field-type-text-with-summary field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img alt="" height="187" src="" style="float:left" title="" width="280" />My first job after returning from holiday (disaster tourism in Northern Ireland – don’t ask) was to speak on <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Theories of Change</a> to a really interesting group – ‘building a rule of law leadership network in the Middle East’, funded by the UK Foreign Office. The <a href=";rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=1&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=0CCEQFjAA&amp;;ei=rnlXVOqbK8er7Abq54CgBQ&amp;usg=AFQjCNHr3xgXoAVxojvbTMbGKED7vsxyyQ&amp;sig2=IXLqwzIm8kTdpXYoIK_pqw&amp;bvm=bv.78677474,d" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">John Smith Trust</a> has about 20 lawyers, civil servants, policemen, UN personnel and business people for a 3 week training programme. Equal numbers of men and women, from Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman. <a href=";rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=1&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=0CCEQFjAA&amp;;ei=P8VYVK_KFc2v7AbtqYCgAg&amp;usg=AFQjCNE4hv9Cb-1l0SsIJldLPgcrFkYIDw&amp;sig2=RYmC4qfc5eZqXtJKqyfevg&amp;b" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Chatham House rules</a> so that’s your lot viz info.<br /><br /> Over the course of a year, each Leadership Fellow develops an Action Plan for reform back home, ranging from girls’ education to police training to civil society strengthening, and will work on it during their UK visit, where they get inputs from people like me, discussions and visits to the UK Parliament and elsewhere.<br /><br /> I was presenting on theories of change (ToCs) – <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">here’s my powerpoint</a>. My co-presenter (from a UK thinktank) defined a ToC as ‘a conceptual map of how activities lead to outcomes’. As you might imagine, I disagreed with the implied linearity of that. But the disagreement, and the views of those present was interesting.<br /></div></div></div> Wed, 19 Nov 2014 20:14:00 +0000 Duncan Green 6881 at Theories of Change, Stakeholders, Imagined Beneficiaries, & Stealing from Product Design. That is, Meet ‘Mary.’ <div class="field field-name-body field-type-text-with-summary field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><p> <img alt="" height="189" src="" style="float:left" title="" width="280" />I have been thinking a lot about ‘theories of change’ this week (as I was <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">here</a>).  Actually, I have been thinking more about ‘conceptual models,’ which was the term by which I was first introduced to the general idea* and the term I still prefer because it implies more uncertainty and greater scope for tinkering than does ‘theory.’ (I accept that ‘theory of change’ has been branded and that I have to live with it, but I don’t have to like it.)<br /><br /> Regardless of the term, the approach of thinking seriously about how behavioral, social and economic change happens is important but often overlooked during the planning stages of projects/programs/policies and linked evaluations. Moreover, they are glossed over in the analysis and reporting stages, left to academic speculation in the discussion section of an evaluation paper and not informed by<a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"> talking systematically to those people who were intended to benefit from the program</a>.<br /><br /> I think there is growing recognition that building a theory of change is something that should happen, at least in part, backwards (among other places where this is discussed is in ‘<a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">evidence-based policy</a>’ with the idea of a ‘pre-mortem‘ and ‘thinking step-by-step and thinking backwards‘).  That is, you start with the end goal, usually some variant of ‘peace,’ ‘satisfaction,’ ‘wellbeing,’ ‘<a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">capabilities</a>,’** etc., in mind and work backwards as to how you are going to get there from here.</p> </div></div></div> Thu, 11 Sep 2014 20:02:00 +0000 Heather Lanthorn 6816 at The Best Evidence Yet on How Theories of Change are Being Used in Aid and Development Work <div class="field field-name-body field-type-text-with-summary field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><p> <img alt="" height="240" src="" style="float:left" title="" width="180" />If you are interested in Theories of Change (ToCs), you have to read Craig Valters’ new paper ‘<a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Theories of Change in International Development: </a>Communication, Learning or Accountability’ or at least, his <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">accompanying blog</a>. The paper draws on the fascinating <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">collaboration between the LSE and The Asia Foundation</a>, in which TAF gave LSE researchers access to its country programmes and asked them to study their use of ToCs. That means Craig has been able to observe their use (and abuse) in practice.</p> <p> What this paper helps answer is the question <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">I raised a while ago</a> – will ToCs go the way of the logframe, starting out as a good idea, but being steadily dumbed down into a counterproductive tickbox exercise by the procedural demands of the aid business?</p> </div></div></div> Wed, 10 Sep 2014 20:24:00 +0000 Duncan Green 6814 at Should You Keep Innovating as a Programme Matures? Dilemmas from (another) Ground-Breaking Accountability Programme in Tanzania <div class="field field-name-body field-type-text-with-summary field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><p> <img alt="" src="" style="float:left; height:210px; width:280px" />Certain countries seem to produce more than their share of great programmes. Vietnam is one, and Tanzania appears to be another. After the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">much-blogged-on Twaweza workshop</a> in Tanzania last week, I headed up North to visit the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Chukua Hatua</a> accountability programme. It’s one of my favourites among Oxfam’s governance work, not least because it has a really top notch <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">theory of change</a> (keep clicking) I often get asked for a good real life practical example of a ToC – in governance work, this is the best I’ve seen.</p> <p> Over a series of conversations with Oxfam staff and partners, village activists, officials and others, one intriguing issue struck me: even if you start out as innovative, what happens next?</p> <p> Let me explain. Chukua Hatua started out with a really interesting theory of change – adopt an evolutionary approach of variation-selection-amplification. That meant trying out lots of things in phase 1 (2010/11), then sifting through the results to identify the most successful variant(s) and scaling that up.</p> <p> The variant that stood out was that of animation: training farmers selected by their communities to become animators – entrepreneurial, networked activists identifying problems in their communities and bringing people together (both villagers and those in power) to find solutions. This has worked brilliantly, so phase 2 (2012/13) has scaled that up.</div></div></div> Tue, 22 Oct 2013 13:45:00 +0000 Duncan Green 6502 at Last Word to Twaweza: Varja Lipovsek and Rakesh Rajani on How to Keep the Ambition and Complexity, Be Less Fuzzy and Get More Traction <div class="field field-name-body field-type-text-with-summary field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><p> <em><img alt="" src="" style="float:left; height:150px; width:150px" />Twaweza’s Varja Lipovsek, (Learning, Monitoring &amp; Evaluation Manager) and Rakesh Rajani (Head), respond to this week’s<img alt="" src="" style="float:right; height:150px; width:150px" /><br /> <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">series of posts</a> on their organization’s big rethink. </em></p> <p> That Duncan Green dedicated three posts on Twaweza’s ‘strategic pivot’ may signal that our work and theory of change are in real trouble, but we prefer to take it as a sign that these issues are of interest to many people working on transparency, accountability and citizen-driven change. His posts follow a terrific <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">two day evaluation meeting</a>. Here are a few clarifications and takeaways.</p> <p> Spiritual matters first. We very much believe that Twaweza’s soul remains intact: we want to contribute towards change in complex systems in East Africa, by promoting and enabling citizens to be active agents and shape their lives. Our experience over the past four years has made us question much of how we ‘do’ citizen agency, but we are not quite throwing out the baby with the bathwater.</p> <p> For example, in our original approach we didn’t want to be prescriptive about citizen action; we wanted to expand choices and leave it up to people to decide, what we called an ‘open architecture’ approach to social change. Sounds good; problem is that it doesn’t work so well in practice and the evidence of successful change suggests a need for less openness and more focus. New evidence about <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">the bandwidth that poor people have </a>to make good decisions provides useful insights on what one can realistically expect people to do.</p> </div></div></div> Tue, 15 Oct 2013 20:04:00 +0000 Duncan Green 6496 at The War for Twaweza's Soul: The Hunger for Clarity and Certainty v the Demands of Complexity <div class="field field-name-body field-type-text-with-summary field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><p> <img alt="" src="" style="float:left; height:72px; width:169px" />This is the last in a series of three posts on <a href="" target="_blank">Twaweza</a>, a fascinating NGO doing some pioneering work on accountability in East Africa, whose big navel gaze I attended last week. <a href="" target="_blank">Post one </a>covered Twaweza’s theory of change and initial evaluation results; yesterday I got onto the <a href="" target="_blank">critique of its thinking and action </a>to date. Today I’m digging deeper into some of the underlying issues.</p> <p> Given its rethink, Twaweza is now contemplating a shift in direction – while keeping its focus on citizen agency, focus in on education (rather than try and cover education, health and water); reduce the number of partners; do more things on its own (eg research or education programming); expand successful areas such as policy and advocacy; do more experiments to uncover what works and help the organization ‘fail faster’ and so move on to new stuff.</p> <p> Plenty of good ideas in there, but it also seems to me to mark an intellectual retreat from the initial commitment to finding new ways to achieve change in complex systems. I think there’s a strong case for digging deeper into complexity, rather than retreating from it. One suggestion that moves in the right direction is to set up a ‘<a href="" target="_blank">positive deviance</a> lab’, dedicated to detecting and then understanding examples of success in citizens’ action across East Africa.</p> </div></div></div> Fri, 11 Oct 2013 13:46:00 +0000 Duncan Green 6494 at So What Should Twaweza Do Differently? How Accountability Work is Evolving <div class="field field-name-body field-type-text-with-summary field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><p> <img alt="" src="" style="float:left; height:72px; width:169px" />Yesterday I <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">sketched out</a> the theory of change and initial findings on the first four years of work by an extraordinary East African NGO, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Twaweza</a>. Today I’ll move on to what some NGO people (but thankfully no-one in Dar es Salaam last week) insist on calling ‘the learnings’ about the flaws and gaps in its original theory of change (described in yesterday’s post).</p> <p> First, there’s a big ‘black box’ containing Twaweza’s rather large assumption that giving people information (eg about failing education systems), would lead to them taking action to change things. What issues in the black box determine whether this is true or not?</p> <p> <a href=";sa=U&amp;ei=ZwxQUtSsDorW0QW-2ICQBg&amp;ved=0CBwQFjAB&amp;sig2=54Op_1q5Y_TCX3nXd56mqg&amp;usg=AFQjCNHkdOfeoar_yljlThtXo8eAYfaa2g" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Evan Lieberman</a> (one of Twaweza’s many evaluators, from Princeton University) called this the ’secret sauce’ – the miracle that links information to action. His team had come up with a smart attempt to identify some of the sauce’s ingredients – conditions for a →b:</p> <p> Do I understand the info? →Is it new info? →Do I care? →Do I think that it is my responsibility to do something about it? →Do I have the skills to make a difference? →Do I have the sense of efficacy to think that my efforts will have an impact? →Are the kinds of actions I am inspired to take different from what I am already doing? →Do I believe my own individual action will have an impact? →Do I expect fellow community members to join me in taking action? Evan argued that only if the answer to <em>all</em> of these is yes, will the black box indeed turn information into action.</p> <p> Actually it’s worse than that – they missed some pretty big ones (‘do I have the time to do this, on top of everything else?’ ‘Will I run any personal risks if I do this?’). It’s a hell of an intimidating set of conditions and, as was pointed out, the danger is that accountability proponents will just latch onto one of the steps, then wonder why nothing is popping out at the outcome end.</p> </div></div></div> Thu, 10 Oct 2013 17:02:00 +0000 Duncan Green 6493 at 'Convening and Brokering' in Practice: Sorting out Tajikistan’s Water Problem <div class="field field-name-body field-type-text-with-summary field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><P><IMG alt="" align=left src="" width=280 height=220>In the corridors of Oxfam and beyond, ‘convening and brokering’ has become a new development fuzzword. I talked about it in my <A href="" target=_blank>recent review</A> of the Africa Power and Politics Programme, and APPP promptly got back to me and suggested a discussion on how convening and brokering is the same/different to the APPP’s proposals that aid agencies should abandon misguided attempts to impose ‘best practice’ solutions and instead seek ‘best fit’ approaches that ‘go with the grain’ of existing institutions in Africa. That discussion took place yesterday, and it was excellent, but that’s the subject of&nbsp;next&nbsp;week's&nbsp;blog. First I wanted to summarize the case study I took to the meeting.</P> <P>The best example I’ve found in Oxfam’s work is actually from Tajikistan, rather than Africa, but it’s so interesting that I wrote it up anyway. Here’s a summary of a <A href="" rel="attachment wp-att-13305" target=_blank>four page case study</A>. Text in italics is from an interview with Ghazi Kelani, a charismatic ex-government water engineer who led Oxfam’s initial work on water and is undoubtedly an important factor in the programme’s success to date. Ghazi is currently Oxfam’s Tajikistan country director.</div></div></div> Fri, 25 Jan 2013 17:33:08 +0000 Duncan Green 6220 at Can Theories of Change Help Researchers (or their funders) Have More Impact? <div class="field field-name-body field-type-text-with-summary field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><P><IMG height=52 alt="" hspace=0 src="" width=200 align=left border=0>Got dragged into DFID this week for yet another session on theories of change. This one was organized by the DFID-funded <A href="" target=_blank>Research for Development</A> (R4D) project (sorry, ‘portal’). A lot of my <A href="" target=_blank>previous comments</A> 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?’</P> <P>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 <A href="" target=_blank>Being John Malkovich</A> where Malkovich <A href="" target=_blank>enters his own brain</A>), but bear with me.</div></div></div> Mon, 06 Aug 2012 16:50:06 +0000 Duncan Green 6061 at