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What determines whether/how an organization can learn? Interesting discussion at DFID

Duncan Green's picture

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’.

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.

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 Twaweza a couple of years ago. For many present, the tacit theory of change seems to be ‘knowledge → learning → changed behaviours → changed outcomes’. Yeah right.

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.

Equipping Kazakhstan’s future workforce

Aliya Bizhanova's picture
Kazakhstan has embarked on several policy and institutional initiatives aimed at closing skill gaps and improving work force productivity.
Kazakhstan is embarking on several policy and institutional initiatives aimed at closing skill gaps and improving work force productivity. Photo: Maxim Zolotukhin / World Bank

Do you remember how you felt when you graduated from high-school or college? Like me, you probably experienced some uncertainty and anxiety about what comes next, asking questions such as: “Will I get a job, and if so, where? And am I fully equipped to compete in the workforce?”

Indeed, these are important questions for many graduates entering the labor market in my country, Kazakhstan, where strong economic growth over the last decade has exposed some major skill gaps in the workforce.

The first line of defense against outbreaks is to finance pandemic preparedness at a national level

Peter Sands's picture
A portrait of an Ebola survivor, Dr. Gassama Ibrahima at the Matam Medical Center in
Conakry, Guinea on March 16, 2015. Photo © Dominic Chavez/World Bank

The case for investing in pandemic preparedness is –or at least, should be -  completely compelling. Few things could kill as many people as an influenza pandemic. Few threats can cause as much economic disruption as the contagion of fear triggered by a rapidly escalating epidemic. Reinforcing capabilities such as disease surveillance, diagnostic laboratories and infection control would be more effective and cost far less than spending money to contain outbreaks when they occur. Yet, so far, the global community has demonstrably not invested enough in preparedness. As a result, too many lives have been lost and too many livelihoods damaged, and the world remains scarily vulnerable.  

Strategic investment funds and government innovations for infrastructure development

Rajiv Sharma's picture


Photo Credit: Axel Drainville via Flickr Creative Commons

Our research at the Stanford Global Projects Center aims to improve the way institutional capital is invested in critical public infrastructure. On one side, we research how institutional investor capital that has a commercial objective can be pooled most efficiently for infrastructure. On the other side we research government policies and practices to procure infrastructure assets through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) and other methods most effectively. In this blog we highlight a few specific initiatives that have been set up to achieve these two objectives holistically, a few of which we touched upon in our first blog.
 

Quote of the week: Simon Schama

Sina Odugbemi's picture
“The world is separating into two irreconcilable halves: those who want to live only alongside those who look, pray and speak like them, and those millions in the great ethnically jumbled cities who want to share the neighborhood.”

- Simon Schama - University Professor of Art History and History at Columbia University.
Quoted in Financial Times print edition February 4, 2017 "The American dream collides with nativist nightmares" by Simon Schama. 

Photo credit: By Financial Times (Flickr  Uploaded by January) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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Understanding value chains to drive job growth

Maria Laura Sanchez Puerta's picture

 

Several new tools are helping DFIs measure the impact of the private sector investments on jobs.
Several new tools are helping development finance institutions measure the impact of the private sector investments on jobs. Photo: Salahaldeen Nadir / World Bank


Let’s Work, a global partnership of over 30 organizations, is piloting tools that can help Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) measure the impact of private sector investments on jobs. The aim is for DFIs to not only measure jobs in the same consistent way, but also along the same nuanced dimensions: number of jobs gained, the quality of those jobs, and who gets those jobs (inclusiveness).  One of the measurement methods being developed by the Partnership is the Jobs in Value Chains Survey tool.
 

Don’t sweat the small stuff – lessons from European courts

Georgia Harley's picture

Last year, we posted a blog – Resolving Minor Disputes Matters Big Time for the Poor – which highlighted how courts can fast-track minor disputes to deliver faster, cheaper and more appropriate justice and how – for the poor and for micro and small businesses – this may be their only path to justice. 

Increasingly, citizens and businesses demand fast-tracking services for small cases and, according to Doing Business data, 138 economies have a small claims procedure of some kind. So courts across the world are eager to learn how to roll out such reforms – either to introduce a fast track procedure or to improve on an existing one.

The State of Development Journals 2017: Quality, Acceptance Rates, and Review Times

David McKenzie's picture
I recently became a co-editor at the World Bank Economic Review, and was surprised to learn how low the acceptance rate is for submitted papers. The American Economic Review and other AEA journals such as the AEJ Applied publish annual editor reports in which key information on acceptance rates and review times are made publicly available, but this information is not there for development economics journals.

Pulling the chain: business solutions for managing human fecal waste

Krishna Chaitanya Rao's picture

Co-authors:
International Water Management Institute Christopher Patacsil
Keystroke CommunicationsPaul Stapleton


Private sector investment principles could make the fecal sludge management chain sustainable, says a new report released in time for FSM4
 
To understand why innovation in fecal sludge management matters, ask yourself this: In 15 years, when almost 5 billion people are using on-site sanitation, solutions like pit latrines and septic tanks, what will the world do with all the fecal waste? About half that many people use onsite sanitation today, and we already have a hard time keeping up.
 
Today, global leaders will convene at the 4th International Fecal Sludge Management Conference (FSM4) to discuss this very issue. Government, nonprofit, and industry leaders will explore recent learnings, solutions, and recommendations that prioritize the safe and effective management of fecal sludge as a key component of sanitation service delivery.


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