Tag Archives: development management

Trends in the management of development

In this post I will continue with the discussion about the particular assumptions which now seem to underpin theories of social development as currently practised by staff in many INGOs. I will also offer some thoughts on the specific configurations that have evolved in the domain of international development between a handful of very large INGOs and others, as well as between INGOs and the state and the public which supports them. In doing so I will be exploring what I consider to be three historical trends which have interwoven to bring about significant changes in the way that staff in INGOs have come to think about their work and how they undertake it. Continue reading


On the means and ends of management

One topic of discussion in the international aid domain is the extent to which current management practice, the management of development, works against the expressed aims of international development organisations. Put simply, if the aim of international aid organisations, INGOs, is to help others to help themselves in ways that, according to the Nobel prize-winning economist Amartya Sen, ‘they have reason to value’, then what place do ways of working have which are predicated on control, and some would argue, coercion? In the thicket of visions, strategies, grids, frameworks, and targets which INGOs set themselves, to what degree are the voices of the disenfranchised audible? Or are they rather, drowned out by the aspirations of INGOs which in appearance and actions seem more closely to resemble private sector corporations? Have means become disconnected from ends?

In this and a series of subsequent posts I will be arguing that means and ends are inseparable: they are constitutive of each other. If the means of INGOs appear to be contradicting the ends they espouse publicly, then this is because other ends have come to dominate. Although this discussion is specifically about INGOs it may have relevance by analogy to other discussions about the means and ends of management in, say, the public sector, for example the management of schools and hospitals, or the management of companies which aspire to being innovative or creative. To what degree is the way they are managed consistent with what they want to achieve? Continue reading

Complexity and development management

In an article coming out next month (Vol 30, 2010)  in the Journal of Public  Administration and Development I responded  to an invitation to write about the future of development management from a complexity perspective. This involved forming a view as to whether there is such a thing as development management, as well as dealing with ideas about how the future arises from the present. On what basis might one predict a future for anything, and what would these predictions say about our theories of causality?

The article argues that development management borrows heavily from management ideas that prevail in other sectors, particularly but not exclusively, New Public Management. In other words, many of the concepts, assumptions, grids, frameworks and instruments of management that get taken up widely in the public sector, and in the private sector, are also widely used in development organisations. One is just as likely to find managers in development organisations talking about their ‘niche’ and their ‘brand’, undertaking strategic planning, setting ‘stretch targets’, and worrying about effectiveness and efficiency as in any other sector. There are obvious differences, but at the same time managers in development organisations are working with very similar theories, implicit or explicit, to those adopted by managers in all kinds of other organisations. Is this such a surprise if they have management qualifications from the same business schools?

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