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  • Author: Matt Andrews, Peter Harrington
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Many countries, like Sri Lanka, are trying to diversify their economies but often lack the capabilities to lead diversification programs. One of these capabilities relates to targeting new sectors to promote and pursue through a diversification policy: countries know they are ‘doomed to choose’ sectors to target,1 but lack effective capabilities to do the targeting. This paper narrates a recent (and ongoing) initiative to establish this kind of capability in Sri Lanka. The initiative adopted a Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA) process, where a team of Sri Lankan officials worked with Harvard Center for International Development (CID) facilitators to build capabilities. The paper tells the story of this process, providing documented evidence of the progress over time and describing the thinking behind the PDIA process. It shows how a reliable targeting mechanism can emerge in a reasonably limited period, when a committed team of public officials are effectively authorized and engaged. The paper will be of particular interest to those thinking about targeting for diversification and to those interested in processes (like PDIA) which are focused on building state capability and fostering policy implementation in public contexts.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Economic growth, Economic Policy
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Sri Lanka
  • Author: Michele Coscia, Timothy Cheston, Ricardo Hausmann
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Are regions poor because they have bad institutions or are they poor because they are disconnected from the social channels through which technology diffuses? This paper tests institutional and technological theories of economic convergence by looking at income convergence across Colombian municipalities. We use formal employment and wage data to estimate growth of income per capita at the municipal level. In Colombia, municipalities are organized into 32 departamentos or states. We use cellphone metadata to cluster municipalities into 32 communication clusters, defined as a set of municipalities that are densely connected through phone calls. We show that these two forms of grouping municipalities are very different. We study the effect on municipal income growth of the characteristics of both the state and the communication cluster to which the municipality belongs. We find that belonging to a richer communication cluster accelerates convergence, while belonging to a richer state does not. This result is robust to controlling for state fixed effects when studying the impact of communication clusters and vice versa. The results point to the importance of social interactions rather than formal institutions in the growth process.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Science and Technology, Economic growth, Institutions
  • Political Geography: Colombia, South America
  • Author: Ricardo Hausmann, Ljubica Nedelkoska
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Over the past few decades, migration from developing to developed countries was often viewed as 'brain drain', as talented workers were forced out of their home countries due to lack of competitive opportunities. The population that left these countries and settled in the more economically advanced parts of the world have, over time, acquired financial capital and built social networks within host countries. Hence, while the home countries were still suffering from the scarcity of knowhow, significant shares of their populations began to actively engage in more productive economies. It seems that, through migration, developing countries had unexpectedly created significant networks of human and financial capital abroad. But are these foreign networks transferring knowhow back to their home countries? It turns out that those same reasons that induced the economic migration in the first place, often make it difficult for migrants to engage afterwards. What would happen, however, if a large proportion of these diasporas was forced to return back to their home country - would that lead to knowhow transfer? Our study investigates the impact of such an abrupt return migration wave between Greece and Albania.
  • Topic: Development, Migration, Labor Issues, Developing World, Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Eastern Europe, Greece, Albania
  • Author: Shireen Al-Adeim
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: This is the first of a three-part series of essays on Yemen highlighting the magnitude and impact of the civil war on Yemenis. Yemen continues to suffer in silence as the world turns away from its ongoing misery. Despite over two and a half years of war, the average American seems oblivious to the United States’ role in fueling the conflict in Yemen. While wealthy Arab states like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates bombard the Middle East’s poorest country, pushing the country toward famine and an unprecedented cholera outbreak, the US government (beginning with the Obama administration and continuing with Trump) has continued to fully support the Saudi-led coalition through the sale of weapons, mid-air refueling, targeting intelligence, and other logistical support.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, War, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, United States of America
  • Author: Shireen Al-Adeim
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: This is the second of a three-part series of essays on Yemen highlighting the magnitude and impact of the civil war on Yemenis. Starting in March 2015, Saudi Arabia led a coalition of several Arab countries in bombing Yemen, its neighbor to the south. The coalition’s indiscriminate bombing has targeted countless homes, schools, markets, and even hospitals. Yemenis have become accustomed to double-tap and triple-tap strikes that target rescuers after an attack. One notable case was a double-tap strike that killed at least 140 mourners at a large funeral home in Sana’a, Yemen’s capital. The number of deaths resulting from US/Saudi airstrikes and fighting between Saudi-allied and Saleh/Houthi-allied forces has been conservatively estimated at 10,000 deaths and 40,000 injuries. The hidden costs of war, however, are much greater.
  • Topic: Health, Poverty, War, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, North America, United States of America, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Mohamed Saleh
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: This is the third of a three-part series of essays on Yemen highlighting the magnitude and impact of the civil war on Yemenis. Yemen is located on the southern edge of the Arabian peninsula, with the Red Sea and Egypt to its west, the Gulf of Aden and the Horn of Africa to its south, Oman on its northeastern border, and Saudi Arabia along its northern border. Once benign representations of Yemen’s geography and sovereignty, those borders now symbolize nothing but profound anguish. The edges outlining a nation whose people remain imprisoned while waiting for life-saving aid which may not come. What at one point was a country grappling with the contradictions of 21st century development and economic growth has been bombed so viciously and blockaded so resolutely that close to a million of its inhabitants may die from a disease easily cured by oral rehydration therapy – a medical expression for treatment by purified water and modest amounts of sugar, salt, and zinc supplements. Condiments and a few bottles from a local pharmacy in any European country, and water. That is all. And yet the international community continues to watch in horror, its reaction anemic, its response stunted.
  • Topic: Civil War, War, Arab Spring, Humanitarian Intervention, International Community
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, United States of America, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Salman al-Dosari, Aziza al-Manea, 'Adel Khamis al-Zahrani, Hind al-Mutairi, Abdulrahman al-Rashed
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: The General Entertainment Authority was created last year as part of Saudi Arabia’s “Vision 2030” plan. The primary goal of Vision 2030 is to diversify Saudi Arabia’s oil-dependent economy, but it also aims to foster a “vibrant society” with “meaningful entertainment for citizens.” Public cinemas are banned in the kingdom, and some Saudis seek diversion abroad, often in nearby Bahrain and Dubai. So far, the General Entertainment Authority has provoked a mixed reaction: some have lauded its work to bring more cultural events to Saudi Arabia, while others accuse it of moving too quickly, and not offering enough options to less wealthy Saudis. Here are excerpts of what five Saudi pundits had to say about the issue.
  • Topic: Culture, Reform, Media, News Analysis, Leisure
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Mahdi Dakhlallah, Imad Salim, Tahseen al-Halabi, Bashar al-Assad
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: During the presidential campaign, Trump said he “[doesn’t] like Assad at all” and described the Syrian leader as “a bad guy.” But he compared Assad favorably to the alternatives. “Assad is killing ISIS,” Trump stated, whereas “we don’t even know who they [the rebels] are.” Trump even claimed Assad to be “much tougher and much smarter” than political rivals Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Unsurprisingly, Assad and his admirers took heart in Trump’s surprise victory last November, with an adviser to the Syrian president saying the American people had “sent a great, a very important message to the world.” Yet Assad supporters – as well as the Syrian president himself – are taking a cautious approach to the new US administration, unsure of whether, and to what extent, Trump will overhaul American foreign policy. Here’s what columnists in pro-Assad media outlets think about Trump’s implications for Syria, followed by excerpts from two interviews with Assad about the new US president.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, War, Elections, News Analysis, Trump, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria, North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, has become the latest victim of the Turkish government’s crackdown on press freedoms. Turkey’s Information Technologies and Communications Authority (BTK) did not give an explanation for last week’s ban. But the blocking of Wikipedia came as little surprise in Turkey, whose citizens have experienced sporadic blackouts of social media sites since May 2013.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Internet, Social Media, Freedom of Expression, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Climate change is affecting us all – but some parts of the world will probably bear a far bigger burden than others. A recent study published in the journal Climate Change shows that rising temperatures in the Middle East and North Africa are likely to exceed 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, even if the global mean temperature remains below this threshold.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment, Natural Resources, Water
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa, Gulf Nations