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Development effectiveness and the politics of commitment

Hughes, C. and Hutchison, J. (2012) Development effectiveness and the politics of commitment. Third World Quarterly, 33 (1). pp. 17-36.

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International aid agencies have experienced a ‘political turn’ over the past decade, with political economy analyses becoming increasingly numerous as a means to drive development effectiveness. Yet aid agencies have so far failed to shift their aid modalities in response. The problem lies in an inadequate conceptualisation of ‘politics’. Most donors continue to see development as a public good, rather than as the focus of contestation in a context of societal struggle, and consequently fail to take oppositional forces sufficiently seriously. This facilitates the misapplication of terms such as ‘partnership’ and ‘ownership’, contributing to failures in efforts to promote reform. A more truly political analysis of aid intervention entails two innovations: the use of structural analysis to distinguish between interests in reform; and the use of this distinction, in turn, to inform the practice of taking sides in political struggles. Case studies of international aid programmes in Cambodia and the Philippines illustrate how the failure of donors to take sides with particular reformers has resulted in lost opportunities to achieve concrete outcomes from development projects.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Asia Research Centre
Publisher: Routledge
Copyright: 2012 Southseries Inc.,
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