More books on complexity than you can shake a stick at—plus a mea culpa

Last month, Duncan Green was kind enough to post my overly ambitious multi-book review on complexity thinking in development on his From Poverty to Power blog. It covered three books: Ben Ramalingam’s Aid on the Edge of Chaos; Jean Boulton, Peter Allen, and Cliff Bowman’s Embracing Complexity; and Danny Burns and Stuart Worsley’s Navigating Complexity in International Development. It…

How peacebuilding and opening governance can work together

I had a guest post on Global Integrity’s blog last week, based on a recent event in DC. The teaser: It takes two: What happens when the open governance and peacebuilding communities work together? Governance reform is a nearly universal need—even the world’s oldest democracies still struggle—yet the need is greatest in fragile states. However,…

Complexity and development: still more theory than practice?

Yesterday I gave a guest lecture to John Gershman’s politics of development course at NYU’s Wagner School (mostly MPA students). The topic: how the development sector puts complexity thinking into practice. Prepping and giving the lecture helped me put together some thoughts on how the topic has evolved since I took that very same course about six years ago. In recent years, there have been at…

Vague norms and specific proof

I’ve fallen off the blogging wagon in recent months. Whenever that happens, I find the best way to get back on is to post something small and easy. Fortunately, I had a bit of inspiration from a client’s recent blog post on intrinsic/normative arguments (“X is good in itself”) versus extrinsic/instrumentalist arguments (“X is good because it accomplishes…

Learning and adaptation depend on relationships (report from TA LEARN, part 3)

I got to spend a few days last week at the the third TA LEARN workshop, hosted by the Transparency and Accountability Initiative (TAI). Around 70 practitioners, researchers, funders, and the occasional consultant gathered to assess and advance the state of practice on transparency, accountability, open governance, and related issues. Here’s the third in a series of three takeaways….

Learning must be user-owned (report from TA LEARN, part 2)

I got to spend a few days last week at the the third TA LEARN workshop, hosted by the Transparency and Accountability Initiative (TAI). Around 70 practitioners, researchers, funders, and the occasional consultant gathered to assess and advance the state of practice on transparency, accountability, open governance, and related issues. Here’s the second in a series of three takeaways….

Learning is adaptation (report from TA LEARN in Rio, part 1)

Sorry for the radio silence in recent weeks. Take it as a sign that I haven’t quite figured out the secret to freelance work/life/blogging balance. Fortunately, I had a chance to take a break last week. I headed down to Rio, glanced briefly at the beach, and then spent three days in a hotel conference room. Huzzah. (On…

Putting entrepreneurship in context: review of Elmira Bayrasli’s book

Entrepreneurship is the kind of endeavor that we place a pedestal. It carries a mystique. The same way that being an artist, joining the clergy, or writing a book mark unique career paths, creating a company seems to transcend normal livelihood choices. Being an entrepreneur sets someone apart in our rhetoric, but not in practice….