[Original post from 24/3/2014. Reposted for fun factor]
The journal Development Policy Review will publish in May my article on the types of aid donors and their impact on institutional change. It will have been a little over two years since I first presented the argument at the Midwest Political Science Association with the help of Conan of Cimmeria, Saruman the White, the Black Knight, and the criminal genius Vizzini. Continue reading Is your development agency Conan or Saruman?
[Original post from 19/3/2914. Reposted for the fun factor]
It has been more than a year and a half since I received my Ph.D. after writing and defending a lengthy dissertation that I liked to think of as “policy-relevant social science”. Thirteen months into my current job, researching and networking with the same aid organizations and actors that populated my dissertation, I have come to realize that social science and development policy are two entirely different beasts, and that reconciling them in any meaningful way is a challenge far beyond the skills of even the most imaginative Ph.D. candidate. Continue reading What development research can learn from Asimov’s psychohistory
Whenever I am in writing mode my mind makes strange leaps to justify a connection between work and fun. Take these two things: my fondness for DC Comics superheroes, and my work in international development. And here’s the leap: in this (recycled) post I argue – in a totally unscientific manner – that the international development community can reflect on its own potential and shortcomings through the lens of super-powered humans. Let me tell you how it works. Continue reading Is foreign aid more like Superman or Batman?
I have been thinking about games a lot recently. Games as in game-theoretical models and generally any sort of spelled-out analytical model; but also games as in real-world, fun-not-work games, whether tabletop or digital. And I am particularly intrigued by the potential of mixing the two together and seeing what comes up; asking if there is anything that we analysts can derive from games (other than fun!). Continue reading Can games teach us about development theory?
Now that Disney is turning Star Wars into a Marvel-like cottage industry and Harrison Ford has broken a leg while playing an older Han Solo, the time is ripe for asking the real question about what happened a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away: Was the Galactic Empire such a bad thing after all? And what would Max Weber think about Jedis?
Continue reading Weber on Star Wars: Or Why the Empire Should Win in the End
I don’t really like Game of Thrones: it is basically a soap opera with no clear narrative arc and too much gratuitous despair for my taste. I read the first book in George R. R. Martin‘s series and watched the show until the infamous “Red Wedding”. By that point I had decided there were way too many characters whose names or motives I did not know, too many factions whose background I ignored, and no clear pattern of relationships. But – like everything else in pop culture – I can still use Game of Thrones to demonstrate how my favorite social scientist was a genius. Hence this guide to Westeros through the lens of Weberian theory. Continue reading Weber on Westeros