The Practice of International Development  book cover
1st Edition

The Practice of International Development

ISBN 9781466586727
Published October 2, 2017 by Routledge
278 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Development analysts tend to give short shrift to the seemingly minor bureaucratic hitches faced by practitioners—those who design, manage, implement, and evaluate aid projects. Often critical of foreign aid either for its apparent ineffectiveness at alleviating poverty or its purported neocolonial implications, the academic literature rarely acknowledges the experiences and pressures faced by practitioners themselves as they implement aid-funded development projects—the meetings, paperwork, negotiations, site visits, financial transactions, logistical arrangements, interviews, program activities, and beneficiary interactions—that keep projects running. And yet the impact of aid projects, and indeed the impact of development itself, often grows out of the daily activities and personal interactions of development practitioners. This unique book considers challenges from the perspective of development practitioners who confront technical, managerial, political, theoretical, and moral quandaries on a daily basis.

With chapters written by expert practitioners on different aspects of design and management of international development activities, this book examines real issues and navigates the often contradictory demands of local development needs, including international donor imperatives; limited financial resources, time, information, and assurance of results; the competing pulls of administrative efficiency; and the desire to alleviate suffering. It also gives readers access to the crucial but little-heard voices of those who spend their professional lives designing and managing foreign aid projects, offering insight into what did or did not work on projects they have managed, implemented, or evaluated. These insights do not seek to identify universally right or wrong ways of doing development; instead, they highlight pros and cons associated with various approaches and decisions. This book provides valuable insights for students and others interested in a development career, encourages practitioners to engage in reflection, and persuades researchers to further consider the influence of practice on project success or failure.

Table of Contents


1. Children Can’t Wait: Effective Development Assistance for School Readiness in Jordan [Katherine A. Merseth]

2. Of High Hopes and Input-Driven Development

[Mark Lynd]

3. Balancing the Contradictions: The Business and the Practice of International Development

[Terrence Jantzi]

4. Relationships, Emotional Intelligence, and the Management of International Development Programs

[Jerrold Keilson]

5. Sustainability in Development Projects: How Do We Do It, and Do We Really Want To?

[Joshua A. Muskin]

6. The Walls of Kano: USAID Education Programming in North Nigeria and the Problem of Sustainability

[Michael Gubser]

7. Practitioners Caught in the Middle: Evidence from the Democratic Republic of Congo

[Nathalie Louge]

8. Participation and Partnerships: Power Plays in Lowland Bolivia

[Elizabeth Phelps]

9. Accompanying Reparations in Colombia: Mampuján and Las Brisas

[Anna Vogt]

10. Development and Peacebuilding: Disparities, Similarities, and Overlapping Spaces

[Carl Stauffer]

11. Education for Development: Theoretical Perspectives and the Nigerian Situation

[Abdalla Uba Adamu]

12. Fantasy, Reality, and Illusion in International Aid: Challenges NGO Workers Face in the Field [August Longino]

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Jerrold Keilson currently serves as AIR Vice President, International Policy, Practice, & Systems Change, and is Adjunct Professor in the School of Public Affairs, American University, USA.

Michael Gubser is Professor of History at James Madison University in Virginia, USA and an aid practitioner with experience in project evaluation and project design. His most recent book is The Far Reaches: Phenomenology, Ethics, and Social Renewal in Central Europe (2014).


"International development and cooperation is a profession – like diplomacy and defense. Practitioners all need skills in project design, negotiating, compliance, M&E, and building multi stakeholder alliances. Hats off to Professors Keilson and Gubser for creating a practical set of case studies, ‘live’ from the real world."

William Reese, CEO of International Youth Foundation, USA

"This highly-readable contribution to the development literature eloquently captures what we field practitioners know to be true: that achieving project impact involves dedication to many bureaucratic tasks and distractions that often hinder our ability to serve the beneficiaries of development interventions.  The essays in this volume are written by real field professionals who understand, and have lived with and overcome, these challenges."

Lee Rosner, USAID

"The Practice of International Development is a wonderful resource book to learn the challenges and opportunities that donors, implementing organizations, governments face when trying to implement successful international development. While each chapter is a stand-alone discussion, the entire collection provides readers, for the first time, a holistic picture of the major issues that must be remembered when trying to implement a successful, sustainable, development project."

Byron Radcliffe, Radcliffe Global Solutions, USA