African Philosophy

by David Week on 15 February 2016

Yesterday, I listened to an interview with Katrin Flikschuh of the London School of Economics. Brilliant. Wonderful. It was as if a door opened on a new universe. I’ve been working in international development since 1978. In the late 1980s I began to realise that there was something amiss in our standard cultural understanding of […]


If Greece were treated like a developing country

by David Week on 10 July 2015

I read today that “Greece debt crisis: Athens accepts harsh austerity as bailout deal nears“. And we see everywhere discourse about whose at fault: the Greeks, the Germans, the EU, the IMF, the bondholders, I think the proverbial elephant in the room is this: “collective punishment.” The Greek government lied about the state of their […]


Do No Harm?

by David Week 10 July 2015

I’ve always had a problem with the formulation (but not the detailed idea behind) “Do No Harm”. Great for the Greek physicians 2500 years ago, but all modern doctors indeed do harm. They cut into people. They irradiate. They prescribe drugs with known side effects. The point is to know the risks of the treatment, […]

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Democratic accountability

by David Week 21 June 2014

This was originally published as a comment on this page. If you look at all the political economy of the aid industry, you’ll find that most NGOs and aid researchers are today servants of government. (Disclosure: me too.) Most of these governments—even those traditionally Labor or Social Democrat—now operate under a neoliberal intellectual regime. Most […]

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The Valparaiso Workshop on Economic Solidarity

by David Week 15 June 2014

Please pass this on if you colleagues or friends who may be interested: On Saturday 21st June, I’ll be in Valparaiso, at a one day seminar organised by Michael Bier of DUC. If you’re interested in attending, please drop me a line at Topic Originally, the topic of the workshop was how new ideas of social […]

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More wicked than you think

by David Week 28 May 2014

This post is inspired by a post by Duncan Green here, in which he invites comments on an ODI working paper by Ben Ramalingam, Miguel Laric and John Primrose, which is posted here: “From Best Practice to Best Fit: Understanding and navigating wicked problems in international development.” This post may not make sense unless you read that paper. The term […]

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The fantasy of development planning

by David Week 27 April 2014

Bent Flyvberg is a brilliant analyst of big-money infrastructure projects. He’s shown through his work how large public investment projects are systematically under-estimated; he’s uncovered corruption; and he’s written a nice tract on why social science, ever since it became involved with physics envy, has failed to produce anything all that worthwhile. I like his […]

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Lessons from OLPC

by David Week 2 July 2013

The news, finally, is that OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) is falling apart. The news come via this post on OLPC News, which cites: multiple failures on project delivery poor evaluation results top staff leaving in droves. I thought OLPC would fall apart about two years ago. There were two flaws in its business model: It […]

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Beyond moralising about “poverty porn” and “profit”

by David Week 25 June 2013

Over on “KM on a dollar a day” Ian Thorpe has posted an argument about The Perils of Fundraising. Though I agree with his arguments against poverty porn, I don’t agree with his solution: that fundraising “follow” mission. This is like companies who think that marketing follows product design, otherwise known as the myth of […]

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The “developing country” double standard

by David Week 14 April 2012

This is a guest post by three authors: Tom Murphy, Carol Gallo and myself. It came from a conversation. Carol put the words together reporting that conversation, below: Once upon a time, David Week read an article in The Washington Post which revealed that Washington lawmakers not only accepted donations from contributors with a stake […]

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by David Week 20 November 2011

Okay: we don’t really need yet another of those cutesie “4D = for development” labels, but for a blog post heading, it’s acceptable. In my last post, Fad Surfing in the Development Boardroom, I took issue with those (and there are many) who think that “development” is completely dissociated from the rest of the world. […]

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Fad surfing in the development boardroom

by David Week 25 October 2011

This is a response to J’s post on Tales from the Hood, entitled: “Fail“. The title of my post comes from a book I have on my shelf: “Fad Surfing in the Boardroom: Reclaiming the Courage to Manage in the Age of Instant Answers.” Note the subtitle, which proposes that the alternative to fad surfing is […]

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