The two faces of development studies

This year’s Development Studies Association meeting was the biggest that I have attended: a 2.5 day affair chock full of panels, events, and conversations which displayed a level of maturity that our community sorely needed. While there is still a lot to do when it comes to making panels more interactive and presentations more engaging, we appear to be on the right course. However, what I found most interesting about this year’s meeting was the attempt by the organizers to reconcile – or at least, represent – the two faces of our little academic community. DSA 2016 had two keynote lectures by well-regarded scholars, and the two of them could not have been more different. Continue reading The two faces of development studies

DSA2016: The Politics of Public Sector Transformations

DSA2016 is upon us, and if you are around Oxford on 12 September you might want to drop by our afternoon panel (2-5:30pm) on The Politics of Public Sector Transformations, which includes 7 papers from senior and junior scholars on both big theory and detailed cases, all with the goal of answering the following question “What is the next frontier in the analysis of public sector transformations?”

Here is the list of papers, authors and short abstracts:

Continue reading DSA2016: The Politics of Public Sector Transformations

DSA panel: The politics of public sector transformations

I am heading Oxford on 12-14 September, as my panel for the Development Studies Association annual conference has been accepted. Paper proposals can be submitted here. Here’s the pitch:

Panel title: The politics of public sector transformations

Panel abstract: The public sector remains an inescapable component of development policy, whether as an instrument of regulation, service delivery, redistribution or recognition. In an increasingly transnationalized world, public servants face a complex landscape of interactions with political regimes, civil society, the private sector, international organisations, academia, and their professional peers across the world; actors who advance competing agendas about how the public sector should think and behave, about what policy domains it should oversee or release. Moving beyond the relatively technocratic contours of the public sector reform agenda, this panel addresses the broader politics of public sector transformation: the everyday contestation of institutions, the resilience of organisational cultures, the role of policy entrepreneurs, or the growth of epistemic networks that blur the boundaries between state, society and regime. In so doing, the panel seeks to bring together theoretical contributions from political economy, contentious politics, organisation sociology, development administration, history, critical theory and international relations, harkening back to a time before academic disciplinary boundaries sequestered the study of public administration from politics and sociology. These theoretical contributions will be explored through empirical narratives of change and contestation from across the global South, from fragile countries with weak public institutions all the way to emerging economic powerhouses struggling with persistent informal legacies. The panel will place a particular emphasis on contributions addressing one or more of the following analytical sub-themes: Public entrepreneurs, Organisational change, Formal and informal institutions, Discourses about the state, Public sector advocacy, and Transnational influences.