EADI Policy Papers

Roles processes and risks within the research-practice nexus: Perspecives from academia

November 2020, by Sonja Keller und Katja Bender (Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg, University of Applied Sciences)

This explorative study was commissioned by EADI and conducted between October 2019 and July 2020. It aimed to assess from the perspective of academia facets of cooperation between development research and practice. This included identifying main groups of non-academic actors involved, analyzing motivations as well as enabling or disabling factors, and exploring ethical challenges of research-practice collaboration in development research. The study was conducted in the context of the rising attention paid to cooperation between research and practice in the context of sustainable development.

Results show that researchers in a majority of cases have additional roles in joint projects, such as project leadership and coordination, and generally feel a strong responsibility for ensuring project success and impact. Practitioners get involved in the research process most often at the beginning (problem definition) and end (dissemination), and slightly less often during data collection. Involvement is lowest during theoretical reasoning and hypothesis formulation as well as development of research design and data analysis. Patterns in collaboration of different types of practitioners could be identified, with CSO/non-profit organizations being more often involved as partners and utilizing results more often than other types of practitioners. Factors potentially undermining project success appear to be a lack of understanding of scientific methods and processes on the side of practitioners, and lack of partner motivation as well as organizational differences.

Development Studies and the SDGs - Mapping an Agenda (pdf)

August 2017, by Henning Melber

On 25 September 2015 the United Nations General Assembly adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets with its resolution Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Since then, the SDGs or Agenda 2030 have emerged as the ultimate reference point not only for sustainable development, but also often as a justification for applied development studies.

The SDGs did not fall from heaven. They were the result of a long process of negotiations. They do not cover all aspects related to development studies and cannot claim ultimate power of definition over development, notwithstanding their strong influence in the debate. While policy makers and the aid industry within international collaboration tend to link almost everything nowadays to the SDGs, development studies should not become hostage of such a limited perspective. Rather, development studies, while engaging with the SDGs and contributing to their implementation, should maintain a certain critical distance to the dominant norms and paradigms implemented.

This paper explores the concepts of development and development studies and their links to Agenda 2030. It revisits earlier efforts towards a new development paradigm and thereby looks beyond the SDGs. It examines the efforts towards sustainable development as a concept within an emancipatory discourse, which should be rooted in global solidarity, justice and human dignity. It thereby advocates an agenda, which aims at rather complementing if not transcending Agenda 2030, instead of being limited to full compliance within the confinement of the SDGs. This is motivated and guided by the interest to maintain ownership by scholars over development studies instead of surrendering the power of definition to the political and aid bureaucracy.

North-South Research Partnership: Academia Meets Development? (PDF)

June 2014, by Gilles Carbonnier and Tiina Kontinen

This working paper examines recent experiences in North-South research partnerships, identifying worst and best practices. It draws on work undertaken by the EADI Sub-Committee on Research Partnerships over the past two years including an online survey, face-to-face interviews and roundtable discussions. Our findings confirm that research partnerships are not immune to the typically unequal, biased donor-recipient relations that have plagued international development cooperation for decades.

Legal Frameworks and Political Space for Non-Governmental Organisations: An Overview of Six Countries (PDF)

May 2014, by Rachel Hayman, Angela Crack, Joan Okitoi and Sarah Lewis

There has been increasing concern to understand the realities that affect how international and local NGOs operate in many countries. Globally, there is high-level agreement on the value of greater inclusion of civil society within policy-making processes, resulting in commitments to put in place an enabling environment for civil society to function. In some countries progressive legislation is being passed to facilitate this.

Legal Frameworks and Political Space for Non-Governmental Organisations: An Overview of Six Countries (PDF)

July 2013, by Rachel Hayman, Thomas Lawo, Angela Crack, Tiina Kontinen, Joan Okitoi, Brian Pratt

This study examines the legal frameworks and political space for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to operate in selected countries in order to suggest appropriate approaches for supporting civil society in difficult political contexts. The cases examined were Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Honduras, Kyrgyzstan, Serbia and Uganda.

The Post-2015 Development Agenda: A Review of the Debate and Potential Elements of a Joint EU Strategy (PDF)

February 2013, by Andrew Sumner and Thomas Lawo

This paper seeks to capture the major elements of global development efforts through the MDGs and in preparing for a global development agenda beyond the year 2015 to contribute to the post-2015 discussion.

Global Poverty Reduction: The last 20 years and the next 20 years (PDF)

December 2012, by Andrew Sumner

The paper looks backwards at trends in poverty reduction during the MDG period (1990 – present) and the impacts of the MDGs. It looks forward and makes projections for levels and patterns of poverty over the next 10-20 years and discusses emergent issues including the ‘new geography of poverty’.

The Urban Challenge: Researching the Politics of the Urban Environment in the Global South (PDF)

December 2010, by David Jordhus-Lier

This paper is an attempt to outline some concepts and discourses which can point towards a research agenda on cities in the global South. While there are many possible points of entry in this complex field, the paper focuses on the environmental transformations generated by urbanisation in developing countries. But how can we integrate an environmental perspective into a social science research agenda – theoretically and in practice?

Sub National Donors and the International Quest for Aid Effectiveness: Case-Study Flanders (PDF)

November 2010, by Karel Verbeke and Evert Waeterloos

It is extremely difficult to demonstrate scientifically whether development aid actually works. Yet it is commonly assumed that while aid has often yielded positive results, this has unfortunately not always been the case and has caused frustration in the aid community. Although the explanation was initially  increasingly acknowledged its own role in rendering aid ineffective. To improve the effectiveness of aid, several international high level meetings have generated important commitments to rationalize the aid environment.

The MDGs and Beyond: Pro-poor Policy in a Changing World (PDF)

March 2010, by Andrew Sumner and Thomas Lawo

The MDGs have had a significant impact so far at a global level, but national level impacts are less clear and need more exploration. There is strong evidence of MDG impacts at a global level and in many countries (in the recent UNDP study of 30 countries, no fewer than 25 countries had added, expanded or modified indicators and 10 had added local goals), and there is good evidence of MDG impacts on social sector budget allocations.