Episode 33: Complexity and Development

This is a special edition of Development Drums. Instead of interviewing a guest, as normal, we bring you a presentation on Complexity and Development by Owen Barder.

This is the audio-only version of an online presentation with slides, which is available from the Center for Global Development.

You can also download the slides and full transcript.

In this presentation, adapted from his Kapuściński Lecture of May 2012, Owen Barder explores the implications of complexity theory for development policy. He explains how traditional economic models have tried and failed to understand why some countries have managed to improve living standards while other countries have not. Drawing on ideas about complex adaptive systems developed in in physics and biology, he argues that development is a property of a system, not the sum of what happen   s to the people within it.

This view of development has important policy implications for policy-makers who want to bring about faster development in their own country, or to help other countries to make faster progress.  The presentation finishes with seven implications for development policy.

This Development Drums podcast is just the audio, for those who want to listen to the presentation in the gym or during their commute. If you would rather see the full presentation including slides, you can do so on the CGD website.



Size: 41.5 Mb

Episode 32: Gender and Development

Gender permeates all development issues, and there is growing debate surrounding how best to implement and promote gender balance and equality throughout the development agenda.

This episode broadly focuses on two different views of why we might be interested in women in development: the first based on instrumental reasons (what can women and girls do for development) and the second on more structural and contextual reasons (what development can do for women and girls).

Our guests are Andrea Cornwall of the Institute of Development Studies and Prue Clarke of New Narratives.

Andrea Cornwall talks of ’empowerment-lite’: the view that small-scale interventions often provide a palliative without addressing the structural causes of inequitable power relations; that they often tackle symptoms but not underlying causes of power imbalance.  She argues that a focus on ‘results’ tends to emphasize instrumental interventions and does not give
enough priority to interventions which help bring about changes in power dynamics.

Prue draws on her experience in working with women journalists in Africa to give examples of how the right small-scale instrumental interventions can change the political context and tackle causes of imbalance, focusing on stories that relate to women and children such as high teen pregnancy, unsafe abortion and female genital cutting.

Download transcript (pdf)

Running time 1 hour and 1 minute; size 39.9 Mb