Rethinking the politics of development: New evidence to inform our evolution

Effective States diagram of politics of development
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At Global Integrity, our work is focused on supporting efforts to address governance-related challenges, including challenges around corruption and the mis-use of public resources, in countries and communities around the world. 

Our approach to doing this is based on three things: 

  • Our understanding that addressing complex governance-related challenges, involves navigating and shaping the politics, power dynamics, and incentives of governance reform;
  • Our belief that this navigating and shaping is best achieved through efforts that are problem-focused, locally led, evidence-informed, and adaptive; and
  • Our evolving thinking about how we – a small organization that currently has most of its staff based in Washington, DC – can best support locally led efforts to address governance-related challenges.

We are not very regular attendees at academic conferences. Meetings of the Open Government Partnership, the International Anti-Corruption Conference, the International Open Data Conference, the Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative, and the OECD Integrity Forum (see here for our reflections on this year’s event) are more regular haunts. At these events and elsewhere, we’ve actively supported discussions about the potential of transparency and openness to engage more with the political economy of governance reform and embrace learning-centered and adaptive approaches to grappling with governance-related challenges (see, for instance, “Transparency: From revolution to evolution”). So we are excited to be participating in “From Politics to Power: Rethinking the politics of development,” an event at which most participants will be signed up to thinking and working politically, and where skepticism about transparency and openness may well be the norm.

This event, from 9-11 September, is organized by the Effective States and Inclusive Development programme, housed at the Global Development Institute at the University of Manchester. The conference brings together academics and practitioners to review recent and ongoing research into the politics of development and discuss its implications for the evolution of research, policy, and practice. The agenda is rich and diverse, with deep dives into a number of issues, including: thinking and working politically; the politics of growth and human development; the politics of developmental states; the politics of service delivery; state capacity; and, the politics of women’s empowerment.

Our intent is to listen and learn, but we won’t be passive participants. We are keen to continue our efforts to build bridges and foster constructive dialogue between the governance and development community – which will be very well represented in Manchester – and the transparency, accountability, and open government communities – which are often rather distant from these conversations. And, we look forward to sharing information about the Global Integrity Anti-Corruption Evidence (GI-ACE) programme.

This research programme, funded by UK aid from the British people, supports 14 research partners around the world in generating new evidence that policymakers, practitioners, and advocates can use to design and implement more effective anti-corruption programmes. The programme as a whole is very much informed by discussions about the politics of development and thinking and working politically, with strong stakeholder engagement and an eye to the political feasibility of efforts to tackle corruption – an important element of each of the projects. This is intended to ensure that the research takes account of political economy dynamics and can inform politically savvy action, whether the focus is on drug theft in Malawi, urban planning in South Africa and Zambia, or anti-corruption in Nigeria.

We’re looking forward to getting up-to-speed on some of the latest research, evidence, and thinking about the politics of development. As we embark on a process of updating our strategy over the coming months, we’re keen to reflect on what the latest thinking on the politics of development might mean for Global Integrity. We’re also excited by the opportunity to strengthen relationships with existing partners and meet with colleagues from around the world, including our friends at SOAS-ACE, a sister programme of GI-ACE. If you’re going to be in Manchester, we (me and GI-ACE Programme Director Paul Heywood) look forward to seeing you!

Alan Hudson
Executive Director

One comment on “Rethinking the politics of development: New evidence to inform our evolution”

  • Giant challenge to the world: inequality. Effect: Rampant Social Ills. Silver Bullet solution: appointment of internal auditors by legislation and incorporation of lifestyle audits as a norm to corporate governance – which I prefer to call organizational governance. Unless this solution above is imlemented, the world will remain in a quagmire of social ills.


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