SK for SFE – Sustaining Knowledge beyond a program’s lifetime

This is a cross-post of a piece written by Leandro Echt (CIPPEC), entitled “A researcher in search of a policy maker: reflections on the sustainability of a project aimed at linking policy and research in developing countries and published on Politics and Ideas

Running a multi-year development programme successfully is not an easy straightforward task; but rather a long journey characterized by its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges. The latter become even trickiest to overcome when this program is coming to an end.

In which case, the remaining challenge/question is how to sustain such program; in other words, how to make sure all programme products and learning material do not die away when programme closes. The programme “Spaces for Engagement: using knowledge to improve public decisions” (SFE) illustrates this situation. Not only the knowledge produced throughout the lifetime of the programme has been made available for public use, but also a reflective exercise on the programme resulted in a lessons learned paper which has also been made public with the aim to empower other intermediaries and knowledge brokers working in the same field.

The programme “Spaces for Engagement: using knowledge to improve public decisions” (SFE) is a six-year joint initiative by Global Development Network’s GDNet’s program and the CIPPECCenter for the Implementation of Public Polices promoting Equity and Growth (CIPPEC). Many of the lessons learned along these six years have been systematically reflected about in a Lessons learned paper, so as to improve our future work, as well as empower others who are walking or want to walk down the same path.

Started in 2008, the project encompasses six years of intense work aimed at creating diverse range of spaces of engagement with the participation of researchers from policy research institutions that conduct and use research to influence policy, policymakers, and/or decision making processes. For this purpose, SFE has deployed a va­riety of complementary methodologies to engage stakeholders in the field: an ef­fective combination of cutting edge research production, development of training materials, coordination of networks and debates and capacity building (both online and offline) allowed the programme to work with more than 300 researchers, prac­titioners and policy makers from more than 40 countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa.

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What challenges for development research in Latin America?

This post was written by Carolina Zuluaga, Assistant Editor Vox.LACEA

Is the Latin America and Caribbean region carrying out more research than in previous years? Are there more resources for research available in emerging countries? Is public policy more consequential with research results? The LACEA and LAMES 2013 invited session “Development Research Challenges”, sponsored by GDN, seeks to find the answers to these interrogations.

In order to make an outline of the challenges ahead for development research, globally and within Latin America, it is important to understand where we are now and what has been done in the last few years. In his intervention, Francois Bourguignon (Paris School of Economics) discusses how economic and development research has done a shift from a Macro to a Micro point of view in the last 15 years. Although Micro focused research brings unique elements to a given study such as access to micro data and to details of the behavior of agents, the universal perspective of things is lost. Hence we are losing analysis of Macro topics that are essential to economic research and that help us to pose better solutions to current problems. As a matter of example, in the case of education, we could say that we are educating more people through more effective programs, but deploying efforts in this direction does not mean we are creating more jobs for those people! In which case, it is not an all-inclusive solution to the problem but rather, we are just tackling one part of the problem. For Bourguignon, one of the main challenges for economic research is to go back to including the “big picture” in our analyses; combining thus the two lines of research, Micro and Macro.

Alan Winters (University of Sussex) highlights the impact that globalization has had on research topics in the last 10 years, going from migration and inequality to trade and investment. But recently, he says, another topic is becoming of great importance: Productivity. Future research needs to focus on productivity, especially on issues related to the environment, industrial policy and regulation, allocation of resources, infrastructure and the role of the government upon all these issues.

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Un shock de ingresos sin precedente: Lo aprovechamos?

This is a cross-post of a piece written by Gustavo Adler and Nicolás Magud (International Monetary Fund – IMF) and published on Vox LACEA

Entitled “Four Decades of Terms-of-Trade Booms: Saving-Investment Patterns and a New Metric of Income Windfall“, Adler and Magud’s paper was presented at the 18th Annual Meeting of the Latin American and Caribbean Economic Association (LACEA) and the 28th Latin American Meeting of the Econometric Society (LAMES), Mexico City October 31st – November 2nd, 2013. This post is available in Spanish.

Los fundamentos macroeconómicos de América Latina mejoraron marcadamente en la última década, ayudados por el boom de precios de materias primas que comenzó alrededor de 2002. Esto ha creado la sensación que, esta vez, los países de la región han hecho un manejo macroeconómico más prudente respecto a episodios anteriores de booms de términos de intercambio. Pero, ¿ha sido realmente así?

En un trabajo reciente, estudiamos el shock de términos de intercambio de la última década desde una perspectiva histórica, en especial comparándolo con el shock de los 1970s; y computamos una medida, muy ilustrativa, del shock de ingresos (‘ingresos extraordinarios’) asociado a estas mejoras de términos de intercambio. También documentamos los patrones de ahorro durante estos episodios y evaluamos el “esfuerzo” de los países por ahorrar dichos ingresos extraordinarios. De nuestro análisis se desprende que la magnitud de los ingresos extraordinarios derivados de este ultimo boom de términos de intercambio no tiene precedentes, al tiempo que el esfuerzo por ahorrarlo ha sido menor que en episodios anteriores.

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External Conditions and Debt Sustainability in Latin America

This is a cross-post of a piece written by Gustavo Adler and Sebastian Sosa (International Monetary Fund – IMF)

Did Latin America save the windfall?” is the title of one of the sessions that took place at the 18th Annual Meeting of the Latin American and Caribbean Economic Association (LACEA) and the 28th Latin American Meeting of the Econometric Society (LAMES), Mexico City October 31st – November 2nd, 2013. Sponsored by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the session was dedicated to discuss the following papers: “Four Decades of Terms-of-trade Booms: Saving-Investment Patterns and a New Metric of IncomeWindfall“, by Gustavo Adler and Nicolas E. Magud; “External Conditions and Debt Sustainability in Latin America“, by Gustavo Adler and Sebastian Sosa.

In a context of highly favorable external conditions, especially for commodity exporters, Latin America’s fiscal and external fundamentals improved markedly over the last decade. But, how dependent are these gains on a continuation of such conditions? To address this question, we develop a debt sustainability framework that integrates econometric estimates of the effect of global factors on the main domestic variables that drive debt dynamics, and use it to forecast debt trajectories under less favorable external scenarios.

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On macroeconomic performance, development, social and labor policies in Latin America

LACEA and LAMES 18th Annual Meeting

This post was written by Carolina Zuluaga, Assistant Editor Vox.LACEA

The Latin American and Caribbean Economic Association (LACEA)’s main contributions to the Latin American community of economists have been the strengthening of the interest for research and the creation of new ties with the academia of the developed world. Through annual meetings, thematic research networks and its academic journal – Economía – LACEA encourages research and teaching, and fosters dialogue among researchers and practitioners.

LACEA-LAMES Mexico City 2013

LACEA-LAMES Mexico City 2013

The 18th annual meeting of the Latin American and Caribbean Economic Association (LACEA) and the 28th Latin American Meeting of the Econometric Society (LAMES) took place in Mexico City from October 31st – November 2nd, 2013, and was hosted by the Center for Economic Studies at El Colegio de México. With over 200 papers participating in the contributed sessions; more than 40 discussions taking place in the invited sessions and 3 feature presentations occurring in the plenary lectures, this conference gathered a concentration of talent hard to find in any other event.

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South-South cooperation efforts within “Spaces for engagement” program

By Leandro Echt, Coordinator of the Influence, Monitoring and Evaluation Program at CIPPEC

Every two years, the Colombian Confederation of NGOs (CCONG) holds the National Conference of NGOs in partnership with regional NGO Federations. This year, CCONG and the Caldas’ Federation of NGOs brought the “V National Meeting of Colombian NGOs: social innovation for development, an analysis from the NGO” to Manizales, Colombia.

Encuentro-Nacional-de-ONG-2012-090-e1380738795998The meeting aimed at creating a space for dialogue and reflection among leaders and representatives of social organizations, as well as other stakeholders in Colombia. The dialogue was targeted at the importance of having an innovative social sector to contribute to the peace process, governance and territorial development.

Established throughout the meeting, a South-South Cooperation Forum aimed at knowing the trends of South-South cooperation in Colombia, sharing experiences of South-South cooperation between NGOs and other stakeholders, analyzing South- South cooperation as a modality to be strengthened among NGOs, and identifying realities, challenges and opportunities for cooperation among NGOs.
CIPPEC was invited to participate in this Forum and share its experience within the program “Spaces for engagement: using knowledge to improve public decisions (SFE)”. A joint initiative between GDNet and CIPPEC, SFE encompass­es six years of intensive work (2008-2013) that aimed at creating diverse spaces of engagement with the participation of researchers from policy research institutions (PRIs) that conduct or use investigations to influence policy, policymakers, and/or decision making processes. For that purpose, it sought to work with a Community of Practice (CoP) gathering selected researchers from think tanks and research institutes, as well as policymakers who are strongly committed to improving the use of development research in policymaking in Latin America. The program also seeks to promote South-South cooperation on linking research and policy between Latin America, Asia and Africa.

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To part-time or not to part-time? Chilean Case

To promote female labor force participation, part-time jobs are encouraged; they are seen as a way for women to balance paid work, care and chores activities. Evidence from developed countries links part-time jobs with lower hourly earnings. On the contrary, in Latin America, the same correlation are positive, suggesting a part-time premium. Andrea Bentancor (ComunidadMujer) in her paper ‘The Part-time Premium Enigma: An Assessment of the Chilean Case’ uses recently developed technique (identification through heteroskedasticity) that identifies the effect of working part-time on hourly earnings on Chilean data; she finds that such premium disappears and that women are penalised when they access to a formal/salaried part-time job. (See presentation by Andrea Bentancor)

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Cultural barriers to collaboration in Latin America

By Luis Ordonez

If we want to go beyond cooperation and start real collaboration among partners, we must be aware of the cultural aspects involved. While businesses recognized this a long time ago, the collaboration movement has only recently begun to catch up, learning some painful lessons along the way .

Some of the critical areas that hamper effective collaboration concern information handling, which is different in authoritarian and equalitarian societies; or the uses given to a certain technology (ITCs for example) in a verbal society, rather than an instrumental (written) one. When considering biases and perspectives, these cultural differences may help explain the success or failure of projects, even to the level of inhibiting collaboration among researchers.

Connect south Campaign

Connect South Campaign

Furthermore, in an increasingly technological and web-driven world, many matters regarding technology transfer and cultural in-breeding among the people involved must also become issues for analysis if we want to interact successfully. A culture for collaboration has to be developed through education and other socializing institutions for example, ‘family’, ‘neighborhood’ and so on.  But in order for those ‘new’ behaviors to be accepted as successful, they must show advantages when using them, as compared to results obtained through other channels in solving specific problem is specific settings.

How much we know about interactions among scientists in academic institutions, or between them and their institutional settings in the South as opposed to the North, and how these interactions are affected in authoritarian societies, like the Latin-American, may have a profound effect on our approach to knowledge management, and explain why, even when all parties involved are willing to achieve success, failure arrives i.e. from the lack of  understanding by part of the group of the need to comply with figures of authority by  the other participants, raised in an authoritarian milieu, when approaching ITCs as information “optimizers”. This also applies to the interactions between scientist and decision makers, who have to re-learn to socialize among participants when the team members come from different cultural environments.

In my opinion, and within the context of the Connect South campaign, these cultural barriers should be among the first issues to be raised, since they affects matters as simple as “who translates what”, or as complex as the way to present information to decision-makers that must “save face” in front of their constituencies, and therefore hampering success. An event on Cultural Barriers to Collaboration, preceded by team work on cultural characteristics of the research community, the decision making community and the “think-tanks” or similar “knowledge broker” organizations existent in the North-South extremes could be of great interest, if we are to advance to a better collaborative environment in order to mobilize knowledge from the academic community to the political world.

Luis Ordonez is President of  Fundación InterConectados in Venezuela.  Watch him discussing these issues in more detail (in Spanish).

Les défis de la transition démocratique en Tunisie

Prof. Moez Labidi, Professeur d’Economie a l’Université de Monastir en Tunisie, était l’un de nos invités au séminaire politique « The Road to Democracy : the Arab Region, Latin America and Eastern Europe ». Lors de son exposé, Moez Labidi  a présenté les facteurs ayant été à l’origine de la révolution tunisienne. Il a également relevé les différents défis et obstacles ralentissant le processus de la transition démocratique, parmi lesquels figurent la lutte contre le chômage, la liquidité sur le secteur bancaire et le financement extérieur.

Regardez notre entretien avec Moez Labidi

Arab region, Latin America and Eastern Europe – Different experiences with common aspirations

In an attempt to assess the prospects for democratic transition in the Arab region against the experience of other regions, part of the GDN-AUB Panel Discussion on « The Road to Democracy : the Arab Region, Latin America and Eastern Europe » was dedicated to the Eastern and Central European democratic transformation experience.

In his presentation, Prof. Boris Vujcic, Deputy Governor, Croatia National Bank and GDN Board of Directors, addressed the Eastern and Central European experience with a focus on Croatia. He stressed on transitional justice and good governance being vital for the people’s trust in the new structure, as well as for the universal confidence in the country. According to him, the three regions have several commonalities, and thus a lot to learn from each other.

Watch remarks by Prof. Boris Vujcie: