New publication on capacity building in Africa
In a recent article published in World Development Perspectives, IER's Dr Jamelia Harris and co-author Andrew Lawson assesses the application of the problem driven iterative adaptation (PDIA) approach to public financial management reform in six African countries.
The article draws on primary data collected using a mix of interviews, overt participation observations and a short survey. PDIA responds to shortcomings in orthodox approaches to reform and technical assistance in developing countries.
It stresses local solutions to local problems, achieved through experimentation and adaptation. The principles of PDIA are appealing, but its empirical assessment is in its infancy. This study aims to fill part of this gap.
Findings show that PDIA delivers results in the short-term, particularly in cases where there is an influential authorising agent and dedicated team. Progress was less forthcoming for reforms that required high level political buy-in from senior officials. The approach does exceptionally well to develop staff capability, transferable skills, and local empowerment to solve local problems, thus potentially benefitting future reforms.