Navigation by judgment: why and when top down management of foreign aid doesn’t work

Part of the front cover of Dan Honig's 'Navigation by Judgment'
Written by Hanna Selesele

Event Details


Should aid programs micromanage their work? Or should they leave staff on the ground the space to decide for themselves? In this presentation Dan Honig will speak to the key findings of his book, Navigation by Judgment, an in-depth attempt at answering these questions. Dan’s book draws on a novel database of more than 14,000 discrete development projects across nine agencies, and eight qualitative studies. He contends that tight controls and narrow focus on reaching pre-set targets can prevent frontline aid workers from using their skills to solve problems on the ground, undermining the performance of foreign aid. He suggests that pressure to demonstrate results can undermine performance, particularly in unpredictable environments where performance is difficult to measure.

Dan Honig is an Assistant Professor of International Development at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University. His research focuses on the relationship between organisational structure, management practice, and performance in developing country governments and organisations that provide foreign aid.

Hanna Selesele

Hanna Selesele is a Program Officer at the Development Policy Centre. She is currently completing a double degree in a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Pacific Studies at the ANU.

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