Navigation by Judgment: Why and When Top-Down Management of Foreign Aid Doesn't Work

ISBN : 9780197506394

Dan Honig
288 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Apr 2020
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Foreign aid organizations collectively spend hundreds of billions of dollars annually, with mixed results. Part of the problem in these endeavors lies in their execution. In Navigation by Judgment, Dan Honig argues that high-quality implementation of foreign aid programs often requires contextual information that cannot be seen by those in distant headquarters. Drawing on a novel database of over 14,000 discrete development projects across nine aid agencies and eight paired case studies of development projects, Honig shows that aid agencies will often benefit from giving field agents the authority to use their own judgments to guide aid delivery. This "navigation by judgment" is particularly valuable when environments are unpredictable and when accomplishing an aid program's goals is hard to accurately measure. Highlighting a crucial obstacle for effective global aid, Navigation by Judgment shows that the management of aid projects matters for aid effectiveness.




Part I: The What, Why, and When of Navigation by Judgment

Chapter 1. Introduction - The Management of Foreign Aid

Chapter 2. When to Let Go: The Costs and Benefits of Navigation by Judgment

Chapter 3. Agents - Who Does the Judging?

Chapter 4. Authorizing Environments & the Perils of Legitimacy Seeking

Part II: How Does Navigation by Judgment Fare in Practice?

Chapter 5. How to Know What Works Better, When: Data, Methods, and Empirical Operationalization

Chapter 6. Journey Without Maps - Environmental Unpredictability and Navigation Strategy

Chapter 7. Tailoring Management to Suit the Task - Project Verifiability and Navigation Strategy

Part III: Implications

Chapter 8. Delegation and Control Revisited

Chapter 9. Conclusion - Implications for the Aid Industry & Beyond

Appendix I: Data Collection

Appendix II: Additional Econometric Analysis


About the author: 

Dan Honig is an Assistant Professor of International Development at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). His research focuses on the relationship between organizational structure, management practice, and performance in developing country governments and foreign aid agencies. Honig has held a variety of positions outside of the academy. He served as special assistant and an advisor to successive ministers of finance in Liberia; ran an NGO focused on youth entrepreneurship in agriculture in East Timor; and has worked for local and international organizations in a number of developing countries. A proud Michigander, he holds a BA from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. from Harvard's Kennedy School.

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