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

Crawford School of Public Policy | Development Policy Centre

Event details


Date & time

Tuesday 18 June 2019


Hedley Bull Theatre 2, Hedley Bull Centre, Building 130, Garran Road, ANU


Professor Dan Honig


Hanna Selesele
(02) 6125 1592

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.

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