Episode 19: Beyond Planning

Alison EvansGuest presenter Alison Evans, Director of ODI, interviews Owen Barder about his new paper, Beyond Planning: Markets and Networks for Better Aid, and Roger Riddell, author of two key books on aid and a non-executive director of Oxford Policy Management.

This podcast is in collaboration with the Overseas Development Institute.

Download transcript (pdf)

If you enjoyed this post, please consider to leave a comment or subscribe to the feed and get future articles delivered to your feed reader.

Comments

When planning the development of networks or partnerships, it is now relatively widely accepted, it is crucial to set very clear and explicit long term objectives. These objectives, however, do not describe events, numbers or specific outputs. Rather, they articulate complex relations between people, organisations and their own behaviours towards others.

This recognises that these processes are complex: there is no agreement on what the best course of action might be and there is also no agreement on their outcomes. But it also recognises that our interventions –no matter how well funded and prepared they are- can only contribute to the final outcomes. (And this is all well documented in the discussions around the usefulness of Outcome Mapping in planning)

Having clear objectives that all members of a network or partnership can aim for however, is not enough though. We know that many networking initiatives (or consortia) have failed or stumbled along the way because they failed to recognise that networking is as, if not more, expensive than ‘going at it alone’ (to put it bluntly).

Networks where information flows easily across the membership, where competing objectives are negotiated and a consensus is reached, where principal-agent problems are eliminated by increasing transparency and accountability, and where collective action can be harnessed require (this is a necessary condition) an a fantastic network facilitator –often aided by a flexible yet effectively designed networking strategy (with its systems, structures and processes).

It is easy to be fooled by the ‘magic’ of the Web2.0 –we assume that is is us, the users who made it all possible. Let us not forget the millions that go into building the platforms that facilitate exchange and the millions invested in continuously improving the services we receive –if anything, to keep us interested and coming back for more. This is the same with research, policy and practice networks.

We now know that unregulated markets (networks, after all) fail (imagine the failure of the aid market).

So, Yes to all of the paper’s recommendations but paragraph 98 demands particular attention.

Unfortunately, this assumes that poverty reduction is the main objective of international aid.

this was the first development drums podcast that I listened to (I’m not a big podcast fan), and I really enjoyed the discussion between roger and owen. next thing I did was buying roger’s book and reading owen’s paper. actually, i named them as required reading for my upcoming exams in political science.

just a very minor complaint about owen’s paper: the counting of the paragraphs is completely messed up.

Leave a comment

(required)

(required)