Development Management

Development Management resembles, on one hand, the whole process of public service, while on the other, and as far as research on the subject is concerned, it has a resemblance to MfDR. This is why 3psmars has taken it as a thematic subject relevant to its activities.

We found a most remarkable background work and definition of development management in an article written by Derick and Jennifer Brinherhoff (2005). The research paper titled International development management: definitions, debates and dilemmas dug deeper into the potentialities of development management, it’s multitasking, and pro-efficiency and value based wherewithal. It stressed on the fact that development management is a sub-discipline of public administration which evolved from the traditional process of development administration, modified to meet the accelerated need to be more responsive by applying customised approaches to varying challenges, situation and development conditions and at all levels increase efficiency by reducing emphasis on process, administrative procedure and overgeneralization of problems. They also saw the emergence of development management as alternative to curbing the lapses created by valuing process over results as peculiar to traditional development administration outlook. The paper also emphasised that development management represent a system adopted by international development agencies and NGOs in developing countries in an attempt to ensure concrete impacts of programmes.

The paper clarified that development management is applicable at four levels, which signifies that it could:

  • Serve as a means of identifying institutional agenda setting;
  • Be a management process;
  • Be a toolkit; and
  • Serve as value

The melting point where the four dimensions are articulated, or not, makes the difference between when a holistic and effective approach to development is being applied or not. Public service reforms are usually backed with specific objectives depending on the vision of the visionary or those who are entrusted in carrying out the reforms.

Most of the reforms and laid down apparatus of public service,emphasized more of either process, institutional agenda setting, toolkit or process for carrying forward of development programmes whereas development management will only be at play if all the four processes are considered at the same time without emphasis on one at the expense of the other — and where result is emphasised rather than output. Integrated practice and a systematic or radical introduction of the components as an inherent structural and institutional standing is a sine qua non for effective development administration and this is what is lacking in the African approaches to public sector management.

Local initiatives and practices must therefore draw inspiration from this exported system by NGO’s and donor institutions in Africa as a way of moving forward, especially at this crucial time where Africa’s development renewal is a priority. The popular slogan think globally and act locally[1]’ within the context of globalization and sustainable development has, in this sense, remained more than being relevant in todays international development environment, and we know that the emergence of the United Nations system and the development of network for development progressions have made local actions in the reinforcement of development a matter of global concern.

Since Africa is presently at the centre of international development efforts, a system that works is more of a necessity than experiment for the region; both in the communal global strive under the auspices of the United Nations system, the collectives efforts of other international,  regional (states and non-states) development institutions and the African states themselves. One must ask the question in the race to achieve results; to what extent could we say that the new found development management attitude proposed in the work in question has influenced progress on Africas battle for sustainable development?

This question forms our basis for including the phenomenon as one of the fundamental themes for this web portal.

[1] This slogan has been attributed to David Brower (1969), Rene Dubos (1972), Jaques Ellul (acclaimed to have falsely claimed its paternity in 1979) and Jacques Ellul. In its original usage it applied to environmental issues. However, the idea behind this slogan underlies much of the thinking of socialists and social democrats. The expression itself left the flexibility of adaptation into many situations, one of which, in international development, can translate to observing local challenges in making the right customised solution at international deliberations.