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Why Do Government Aid Agencies Die? A "Court Politics" Approach

woensdag 17 april 2019
Turfmarkt 99
2511 DP Den Haag


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About the lecture

Autonomous government aid agencies are dying. In recent years we have seen the abolition of NZAID (2009), CIDA (2013) and AusAID (2013). There is also considerable speculation about the fate of the UK’s DfID. Typically, decisions to abolish aid agencies have been accompanied by budget cuts. If the way aid budgets are administered shapes development outcomes then these decisions are significant. Despite their importance scholars rarely consider why aid agencies rise and fall, and whether the institutional structure of aid administration affects development outcomes. This paper answers the first question by examining how current public administration thinking about organisational termination and survival can be employed to explain the recent spate of aid agency deaths. To underscore the value of a ‘court politics’ approach the paper analyses the history of the Australian aid agency, which has been abolished twice (first in 1976 and more recently in 2013). The lesson for both scholars and development practitioners is that for government aid agencies getting the ‘court politics’ right, matters. It concludes by considering how this insight might be developed, either via an explicitly comparative study of aid agency termination or an examination of the impact of institutional structure on development outcomes. 

The paper for this DGA seminar can be accessed here.

About the speaker

Jack Corbett is Professor of Politics at the University of Southampton. He is the author of Democracy in Small States: Persisting Against All Odds (Oxford University Press, 2018) with Wouter Veenendaal; Australia’s Foreign Aid Dilemma: Humanitarian Aspirations Confront Democratic Legitimacy (Routledge 2017); Bearing Witness: Essays in Honour of Brij V. Lal (Australian National University Press, 2017) co-edited with Doug Munro; Being Political: Leadership and Democracy in the Pacific Islands (University of Hawaii Press, 2015); and Political Life Writing in the Pacific: Reflections on Practice (Australian National University Press, 2015) co-edited with Brij. V. Lal. Corbett has published more than 50 journal articles and book chapters since 2012. He is co-editor of the University of Hawaii Press Topics in the Contemporary Pacific book series, the Routledge Studies in Anti-Politics and Democratic Crisis book series, and is deputy editor of Small States and Territories Journal.

About the seminars

The Diplomacy and Global Affairs (DGA) Research Seminar is a series launched by the Research Group on Diplomacy and Global Affairs at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs. The seminars of internationally acknowledged guest researchers and faculty members deal with current research topics in diplomacy, international relations, global affairs, and political economy broadly conceived and target a broad audience through their interdisciplinary focus.


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