Why and when top down management of foreign aid doesn’t work

Dan Honig, Assistant Professor of International Development at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) joins Jonathan Leape, Executive Director at IGC in conversation on how aid agencies can benefit from giving field agents the authority to use their own judgments to guide aid delivery.

In Navigation by Judgment (Oxford University Press, 2018)Dan argues that high-quality implementation of foreign aid programs often requires contextual information that cannot be seen by those in distant headquarters. Tight controls and a focus on reaching pre-set measurable targets often prevent front-line workers from using skill, local knowledge, and creativity to solve problems in ways that maximize the impact of foreign aid. Drawing on a novel database of over 14,000 discrete development projects across nine aid agencies and eight paired case studies of development projects, Dan argues that aid agencies will often benefit from giving field agents the authority to use their own judgments to guide aid delivery. This “navigation by judgment” is particularly valuable when environments are unpredictable and when accomplishing an aid program’s goals is hard to accurately measure.

When: 16:30 – 18:00, Wednesday, 9 May

Where: Graham Wallas Room, Old Building, LSE

This event is free and open to all with no ticket or pre-registration required. Entry is on a first come, first served basis.