“Realism and Relativism in Policy Analysis and Evaluation.” Errol Morris’ recent critique of Thomas Kuhn’s philosophy of science is relevant to policy analysis and evaluation, indeed to the social and human sciences more generally. How can scientific research designed to assist action in particular contexts bridge the gaps between Morris realism and Kuhn’s supposed relativism? This paper provides examples of how “objective” analysis can respect and enhance differing “constructions” of reality. November 2018
“Engaging Corruption: New Ideas for the International Monetary Fund.” The IMF’s standard ways of engaging with countries need redoing for complicated, politically loaded issues like corruption. This paper suggests what might be done inside the Fund and with client countries to enable more effective policies. The proposed methods could lead to a broader rethink of how the Fund does business. August 2018.
“What We Talk About When We Talk About Corruption.” Corruption is one of the most discussed concepts in the world, but neither scholars nor citizens seem to agree on what they are talking about. This paper tries to clear the underbrush—and perhaps also clear the air. November 2017.
“On Romance and Intimacy.” How do they fit into a full human life? November 2017.
“Corruption Across Countries and Cultures.” Different countries and cultural clusters exhibit different patterns and densities of corruption. This paper asks, “So what?” September 2017.
“Genetic Adaptation to Historical Pathogen Burdens.” Ancient diseases triggered genetic adaptations that persist today. This study represents a proof-of-concept that may pave the way to the analysis of future aggregate measures coming from whole-genome sequencing/genotyping data. (With Johannes Fedderke and Valerio Napolioni.) July 2017.
“Policy Analysis and Evaluation in a Fact-Free World.” This week the new semester began at Claremont Graduate University, and I’m teaching two graduate courses that ordinarily would be easy to motivate and justify. In our current political climate, both courses may represent the enemy. January 20, 2017.
“Christianity for Young Intellectuals: Warm-up Exercises for Big Thinkers.” Some of the world’s leading authors appear here, mostly in pieces without wide circulation. Their writings engage and charm. They address big questions you may not have verbalized, but once raised, you say wow, that’s right. What if you figured everything out—then what? Where do science and the humanities stop short? What is happiness? What is a full human life? (And don’t worry, no proselytizing.) November 2016.
“Corruption and the Rise of Donald Trump.” Are there causal connections between perceptions of corruption and the success of Donald Trump? November 2016.
“Your Life, Your Hero (excerpts)” What is a full human life? Heroes can help us discover the answers for us—even if we are so much more ordinary than they. November 2016.
“Rejuvenating Governance in China” The Communist Party of China is redoubling its efforts against corruption, emphasizing even more discipline. The CPC also wants to reform the style of governance: to rejuvenate the party, bring it closer to the people, avoid bureaucracy and arrogance. How might this be done? Through examples of success—studying them, sharing them, cloning them. November 2016.
“From Reform to Implementation (A)” A pioneering mayor fosters responsive governance but finds the process stalled. What would you advise? The first part of a teaching case co-authored with Melissa Mahoney. June 2016.
“From Reform to Implementation (B)” How collaboration and participation were fostered through excellent design and exemplary leadership, with outstanding results in terms of public services, economic progress, and civic dignity. The second part of a teaching case co-authored with Melissa Mahoney. A Teaching Note is available on request. June 2016.
Foreword to “It Can Be Done” Twelve success stories from the Philippines show how public-private collaboration can catalyze deeper democracy and improved public services. June 2016.
“Engel-Klitgaard Interview” The transcript of an interview conducted by the chair of Chile’s nonpartisan Anticorruption Commission covers topics ranging from culture to success stories. May 2016.
“A Primer for the London Anti-Corruption Summit” How can this path-breaking event go beyond the usual indignation and cynicism? How about a contest? May 2016.
“Development Given Geography, Climate, and Genes” How are these “deep roots” of development related to development outcomes such as per capita income, governance, disability-adjusted life years, fertility, and self-reported happiness? How might causal relationships be identified? What difference do findings like these make for policy choices today? March 2016.
“Diagnosing Deep Roots of Development: Genetic, Disease, and Environmental Factors.” Using new data about the country-level frequencies of ACP1 genes and a novel identification strategy, this paper shows how historic genetic adaptations to ultraviolet exposure and disease have causal effects on per capita income today. The policy implications include protecting from ultraviolet radiation, controlling tropical diseases, and using specific nutritional supplements. Jan. 2016.
“Addressing Corruption Together.” How can donors and recipients of foreign aid work together to take on systemic corruption? Success stories and economic theory convey practical insights, though econometric findings don’t. A process called “convening” can bring together international knowledge and local knowledge in ways that catalyze creative, effective action. May 2015.
“On Sharing Expertise.” The tension is ancient and universal: we want the fruits of expertise, but we mistrust the arrogance and tin ears of experts. How, then, to manage the sharing of knowledge and experience we are eager to access, without the tyranny of experts we are all eager to avoid? April 2014.
“How Much Do Rights Matter?” Do improvements in civil liberties and political rights lead to improvements in GDP? Yes, but it’s complicated. This paper explores the travails of estimation with a new twist: countries are heterogeneous. Dec. 2013.
“The Limits of Institutional Reform in Development.” Many institutional reforms in developing countries have fallen short of expectations. Why? What can be done? Dec. 2013.
“Gratitude.” Gratitude is good for us, and we can help ourselves become more grateful. Here’s how. Nov. 2013.
“Tackling Corruption in Thailand.” Poor governance is holding back Thailand’s economic progress and contributing to its political unrest. Reformers sometimes start on the wrong foot–for example, new laws. What’s better? Oct. 2013.
“Deciding Whom to Become.” If we don’t already know, how should we choose what to do with our lives? In a word, experiment. Revision of a Commencement Address. May 2013.
“Ideas for Improving Governance in Pakistan.” As the country experiences its first-ever democratic transition, how can it live up to the promises made by each political party to foster good government? April 2013.
“Public-Private Collaboration and Corruption.” Public-private-nonprofit partnerships will be increasingly important in addressing the world’s most difficult problems. But they embed risks of collusion and corruption. What can be done? Nov. 2012.
“What Will Work Here: Inferences from Evaluations in Complex Ecologies.” This address in the Presidential Stream of the American Evaluation Association argues that evaluations should move beyond “the study” for “the decision,” to the convening of multiple actors to define issues, reconsider objectives and alternatives, digest promising practices, and forge new relationships. Many promising methods exist. It is time for a convening…about convenings. October 2012.
“The Quality of Government.” What is good government? How much does it matter, and why? And—a crucial practical issue for a world in need and upheaval—how can it be improved? Sept. 2012.
“Social Media: A New Tactic in the Fight against Corruption.” Around the world new applications of the social media augur progress against corruption. A key step will be moving from complaints to systems analysis to collective action. May 2012.
“Toward a Turning Point against Corruption.” The fight against corruption needs new approaches that address political cultures, informal systems, and the practicalities of implementation. Fortunately, success stories can instruct and inspire. April 2012.
“Toward Results-Based Government in Colombia.” Colombia has made impressive progress in public-sector reform. One interesting initiative is SINERGIA, touted as a successful innovation in evaluation. March 2012.
“Designing and Implementing a Technology-Driven Public-Private Partnership.” India’s remarkable universal identification project is a game-changing innovation in public policy and private finance. It is also an outstanding, and risky, example of collaboration between government at many levels, the private sector, and civil society. June 2011.
“Fighting Corruption.” An overview of lessons learned from efforts to combat corruption around the world. June 2011.
“Making a Country.” South Sudan is the world’s newest country. A few years ago, leaders convened to address the prospective challenges of good government. What did they conclude? January 2011.
“Economic Gangsters.” Poverty, violence, and corruption have connections that can be understood through economic analysis. Good data and good economics can lead to improvements. October 2010.
“Tackling Corruption in Haiti Is Possible.” Haiti is a graveyard for reforms. The great quake and the reconstruction effort offer an opportunity to tackle one of the country’s chronic problems, systemic corruption. March 2010.
“Addressing Corruption in Haiti.” Based on analysis of Haitian realities and the lessons of international experience, this paper provides practical guidance for tackling corruption in Haiti’s reconstruction and development programs. February 2010.
“Leadership and Universities.” How does the president’s job in higher education differ from business, government, or civil society? What is “inspirational leadership” and how important is it? What personal traits are important–and which ones are at risk? A talk to the Claremont Leadership Roundtable, a monthly meeting of about 25 professors from the Claremont Colleges. October 2008.
“Step Back or Step Up.” A new evaluation of the World Bank’s efforts to improve government notes that the impact has been small and also that the Bank doesn’t take on high-level corruption. What now? Should the Bank step back or step up? May 2008.
“Universities Have the Responsibility to Tackle the World’s Toughest Problems.” One of a university’s special callings is to take on the hardest issues, even those that seem intractable. This article, a version of which appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education, describes how this might be done. February 2008.
“A Holistic Approach to the Fight against Corruption.” This talk was the President’s Invited Keynote Address at the Second Session of the Conference of State Parties to the United Nations Convention against Anti-Corruption. It discusses what corruption is and how systemic corruption can be reduced, if never eliminated. January 2008.
“Contested Summary Measures.” Constructs such as IQ and GDP—and, possibly, many others—can be overused or dismissed in a classic but unhelpful pattern. How might we begin thinking about and using contested summary measures? October 2007.
“Three Reminders about Leadership.” Common descriptors of leaders, such as commander, designer, or even leader itself, should be questioned, at least regarding leadership at universities. May 2007.
“Global Action and Social Change.” Why research universities have to provide leadership on the world’s most difficult problems. Brief introduction to a student-led research conference. March 2007.
“Catholic Studies in a Secular University.” Why should a School of Religion at a secular university seek a Chair in Catholic Studies? With our unique mission of teaching students what it means to be inside and outside a community of faith, Catholic studies will add depth and resonance, and its exemplars teach us about experiencing God and serving mankind. Brief remarks to a presentation and panel discussion on “What Catholicism Will We Choose for the 21st Century?” and the symbolic launch of a campaign for a Chair in Catholic Studies. February 2007.
“Subverting Corruption.” What can be done to fight corruption when the people in control are themselves corrupt? Author Posting. (c) Taylor & Francis, 2007. The definitive version was published in Global Crime, Volume 7 Issue 3, August 2006. This is the author’s version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Taylor & Francis for personal use, not for redistribution.
“From Here to There in the E-Health Revolution.” These brief introductory remarks at a conference note the slow adoption of health information technologies and ask how we might speed things forward. December 2006.
“A Pattern in an Infinite Regress.” As we think about what teachers do, and then what teaching teachers entails, we begin along what seems like an infinite regress of evidence and reflection, passion and inspiration. Brief introductory remarks to a meeting of Deans of Education. October 2006.
“More Like Us.” This 2006 Convocation address contextualizes the strategic planning now underway at Claremont Graduate University. It reviews important recent critiques of graduate education and shows how CGU has the seeds of the answers. CGU can provide leadership in graduate education and help solve some of our region’s and our world’s most important problems, by being “more like us.” October 2006.
“Social Advocacy and Universities.” Advocacy doesn’t naturally fit with academic culture. But social advocacy that is passionate, positive, practical, and concerned about proof can contribute much to university life. September 2006.
“The Ideals Gap.” Successful candidates this fall will appeal to our hearts through their ideals and to our heads by connecting their programs to ideals. September 2006.
“Invisible Evidence.” Might cultural analysis help us advance academic debates about what constitutes credible evidence? These brief remarks introduced the Stauffer Symposium for 2006. August 2006.
“What is the legacy of Peter Drucker?” How might we think about trying to extend that legacy now that he has passed? May 2006.
“Fear.” How might research about fear help us, and our world, do a little bit better? These brief remarks introduced an arts and humanities conference on fear. April 2006.
“Neuroeconomics Welcoming Remarks.” These brief introductory remarks at a conference ask how neuroeconomics might help us understand heterogeneity among people and, through that, lead to better treatments and public policies. April 2006.
“Are Great Leaders Also Great Followers?” These brief introductory remarks for a conference on “followership” suggest that aspiring leaders should ask “Of what or whom am I a follower?” and “What does it mean to be a great follower?” February 2006.
“Thomas Schelling and Policy Analysis.” Thomas C. Schelling shares the 2005 Nobel Prize in Economics. He has also taught valuable lessons about how to do policy analysis.
“Interview.” The University’s magazine The Flame interviews the new CGU President and his wife (Fall 2005).
“Choosing and Using Performance Criteria: The Case of Foreign Aid.” In many areas of public and private life, we need to choose and correctly use measures of performance. How should this be done? What factors need to be taken into account? 2005.
“The Quantitative-Qualitative Divide.” In academia, an almost cultural barrier exists between researchers who favor quantitative methods and those who spurn them. How might this barrier be bridged to the benefit of both sides? 2005.
“Getting Insights from Experts.” How can we learn best from experts? A somewhat frivolous example from interior design suggests some general lessons. 2005.
“The Elephant Is Peace and Freedom.” (Part I) (Part II) (Part III) What is southern Sudan like? How might a new government be formed virtually from scratch? This long document, with photos, is a personal portrait based on a trip in April-May 2004. A text-only version, without the PowerPoint presentations, is available here. In addition, a book version with photos, maps, and the PowerPoint presentations is available via blurb.com. You can see a preview here:
“How to Use Partnerships: An Imaginary Conversation.” Increasingly, projects and programs are carried out through partnerships involving government, business, and civil society. How should prospective participants decide whether and how to enter such partnerships? December 2004.
“Taking Culture Into Account: From ‘Let’s’ to ‘How’.” Why, although people have studied culture for a century or more, don’t we have well-developed theories, practical guidelines, and close professional links between those who study culture and those who make and manage development policy? This chapter investigates four possible explanations: culture clashes within academia; fear of the misuse, both scientific and practical, of cultural knowledge; the inherent difficulty of studying cultures scientifically, or the methodological difficulties of modeling and estimating culture-by-policy interactions; and the possibility that some success stories have been underpublicized. The chapter recommends a renaissance of applied cultural studies through the consolidation and generation of knowledge about 1) how cultural diversity affects what people do and want; 2) how cultural factors interact with other variables in the “production” of development, good and bad; and 3) how culture itself is affected by various kinds of development and other factors. April 1992.