Research reports

  1. Over the past 20 years, many African countries have experienced sustained economic growth. Few, however, have embarked on the kind of structural change, driven by rising productivity in key sectors, that has been responsible for transforming mass living standards in parts of Asia. The Developmental Regimes in Africa (DRA) project has been investigating the causes and implications of this worrying scenario, building on the findings of previous research by the Tracking Development project (TD) and the Africa Power and Politics Programme (APPP). Exploiting further the systematic comparative...
  2. This report examines current thinking on best practice in Capacity Development for national-level government institutions in fragile and conflict-affected states. The report looks at donor support and evaluation programmes to identify common practices and lessons learned. Key findings include: There is a clear international consensus on desirable principles for capacity development in fragile states, which include country ownership, use of country systems, improvements to technical assistance and training, adapting initiatives to local contexts, a focus on adaptive and flexible approaches, a...
  3. This paper seeks to explore capacity development of ombuds institutions for the armed forces. The writers draw conclusions based on literature review and a workshop on attended by representatives from several ombuds institutions. The paper concludes that there are no consistent capacity development activities on ombuds institutions and if they took take place it has been in isolated, ad hoc and reactive manners. Capacity development in these institutions could be much more effective if it was better coordinated, involved the pooling of resources and  systematic follow up of initial...
  4. “Technical co-operation” (sometimes used interchangeably with the term “technical assistance”) is generally acknowledged by donors to include the traditional aid categories of technical assistance, training and educational grants. These potentially quite different support actions nevertheless have the common (and sometimes overlapping) objective of supporting the capacity development of the partner country. With the onset of modern approaches to aid in the 1960s, technical co-operation and financial support, packaged in the form of short term donor projects, seemed...
  5. This paper analyses the policies and priorities of the governments of Cambodia and Malawi with respect to capacity development support (CDS), based on secondary research evidence and perceptions of effectiveness from a wide range of stakeholders. The study concentrates on the two governments’ overall objectives and strategies on CDS and contrasts these to the situation in the health and education sectors, as two sectors that generate a strong need for capacity development and attract a significant portion of development cooperation. The study concludes that it is not formal strategies...
  6. The service characteristics approach, described here, was developed as a tool to explain the political dynamics of particular services. It has been tested and elaborated in discussion with specialists in health, education, water and sanitation, focusing on current debates in each sector. We find that service characteristics may reinforce each others’ effects on the likelihood of competitive provision, on access to and exclusion from services, on monitorability by policymakers and managers, on users’ capacity to organise demands and, ultimately, on the political salience or...
  7. Social, economic and political processes are complex, and happen differently at varying speeds in different contexts. Reforms of the public sector have all too often mixed results given that: i) change initiatives are usually politically sensitive; ii) as a result, implementation is complex and all too often ends in failure; and iii) not enough is known about ‘what really works’. This new book, published in connection with the UN Public Service Forum 2014, presents a range of experience in national public service reform, transparency, accountability and inclusive growth and e-...
  8. Capacity development is a fundamental action, without which countries will not achieve their development goals.  Without capacity, there is no development.  However, capacity development activities have not always led to the expected impact on capacity: while they have regularly improved individuals' skills, they have seldom succeeded in transforming the organizations to which these individuals belong.  There is a need to examine the reasons for this relative failure and to propose innovative and relevant policies and strategies. This document highlights some foundational...
  9. This report assesses the impact and value for money (VFM) of international support to government and rebel capacity building for negotiations. It finds that there has been little sustained analysis of the impact of this kind of support. Few donor evaluations focus specifically on these activities and those that do are often not made public (expert comments). No studies were identified that directly examine the VFM of this kind of support. The report largely relies on available literature and expert comments on the effectiveness of capacity-building support to conflict parties for negotiations...
  10. There are few frameworks for assessing the capacity to cope with humanitarian risks at national scales, and those that exist vary greatly from one country to another; no clear common set of indicators is readily discernible. In general, however, the importance of governance, institutions, planning capacity and information management capacity have been frequently identified as key elements, especially in regional (international) frameworks. International frameworks for assessing risk management capacity often highlight governance and institutional issues. The most prominent overall framework...