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Development Aid Confronts Politics: The Almost Revolution Paperback – April 11, 2013


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A hugely insightful book on how the international development community has failed to take politics into account in its efforts to help poor countries, with sometimes disastrous results. Carothers and de Gramont incisively chronicle the evolution of thinking on this critical topic and set out a practical agenda for how aid practitioners can do better." —Francis Fukuyama, author, The Origins of Political Order



"The assertion that development aid is, or should be, political, sparks widely diverging reactions, from outrage at crude Western interference to recognition that aid must understand domestic politics. The authors have done us all a service by rigorously dissecting the different meanings of politics in aid and providing a clear understanding of what smarter aid practice requires." —Mark Malloch-Brown, former minister of state, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office



"The story of how aid agencies have finally accepted that 'politics matter' in shaping development outcomes and what it means in practice is brilliantly told in this penetrating book. The sweep of the authors' research and the power of their insights will stir scholars and practitioners alike." —Adrian Leftwich, research director, Developmental Leadership Program



"The authors bring a great amount of experience, common sense, and clarity to explain what 'taking politics into account' means in foreign aid, encompassing goals such as democracy promotion as well as addressing the political economy of economic reform." —Dani Rodrik, professor, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

Review

“A hugely insightful book on how the international development community has failed to take politics into account in its efforts to help poor countries, with sometimes disastrous results. Carothers and de Gramont incisively chronicle the evolution of thinking on this critical topic and set out a practical agenda for how aid practitioners can do better.”
—Francis Fukuyama, author, The Origins of Political Order

The assertion that development aid is, or should be, political, sparks widely diverging reactions, from outrage at crude Western interference to recognition that aid must understand domestic politics. The authors have done us all a service by rigorously dissecting the different meanings of politics in aid and providing a clear understanding of what smarter aid practice requires.” —Mark Malloch-Brown, former minister of state, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office

“The story of how aid agencies have finally accepted that ‘politics matter’ in shaping development outcomes and what it means in practice is brilliantly told in this penetrating book. The sweep of the authors’ research and the power of their insights will stir scholars and practitioners alike.” —Adrian Leftwich, research director, Developmental Leadership Program

“The authors bring a great amount of experience, common sense, and clarity to explain what ‘taking politics into account’ means in foreign aid, encompassing goals such as democracy promotion as well as addressing the political economy of economic reform.”
—Dani Rodrik, professor, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (April 11, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0870034006
  • ISBN-13: 978-0870034008
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #428,557 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Eric Reading on June 6, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book provides a deep examination of the intersection of politics and development assistance. The authors clearly lay out two different areas of intersection. The first and more obvious is assistance aimed at political development--promoting democracy, rights, and governance. The second is "politically smart approaches" to more traditional areas of socioeconomic development such as health, agriculture, or economic growth.

As a development practitioner who has worked in both governance and these more traditional development areas, the author's examination if the history and state of the art in the second area was the most intriguing. They look at how formal political economy analysis began to appear within development agencies in the early 90's and how it has evolved in the past two decades across a range of development agencies in different countries.

I've already recommended this book to more people than any other I've read in the past few years, and I'd highly recommend that all development practitioners, policy makers, academics, and students read it. The content is useful to people far beyond those focused on democracy and governance who have traditionally been the audience for Carothers work.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Acorn on September 24, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Development aid from rich countries to poor ones is a deeply political and often fraught affair. It is usually justified in terms of reducing poverty, improving security, creating markets for future trade, or humanitarian assistance after a natural disaster or armed conflict. All these reasons are plausible to a voting public and in most cases voters do not look beyond them. In times of austerity like the present, aid comes under greater scrutiny and there is a push for more efficiency in how aid is delivered and for a reduction in administrative costs, but calls to scrap aid altogether are few and far between.

Modern development aid differs from the colonialism of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Colonial powers rarely expected that the people in the countries they exploited would eventually become `modern'. Indeed, there was often a push by colonial powers to preserve `traditional' societies. Development aid on the other hand is largely about turning people, systems and institutions in poor countries into something that looks like the West. Both colonialism and aid are forms of cultural chauvinism, and both are based on daft assumptions, but the difference in expectations means they look unalike in practice.

Carothers & de Gramont have written a detailed and thoughtful overview of development aid from the perspective of how well political analysis and political issues have been incorporated into aid planning, management and policy. They survey the changes in thinking about aid from the 1950s to the present and the rise of governance and politics as issues of concern to aid donors.
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