» Archive for: April, 2014

Gloria OtienaThis thesis examines perspectives on standards and development in Kenya’s horticulture sector. The  debate on standards and development is at the forefront of global policy discussions. The proliferation  trade standards is often seen as a threat to poor countries, diminishing their export opportunities and  leading to an unequal distribution of the gains from trade, resulting in marginalization of poor farmers.  However, empirical studies have come to diverse conclusions about the effects standards on  development. Thus the ability to comply with international standards emerge as a key factor of success in  developing countries’ participation in international trade. Kenya’s horticulture sector continues to play a  major role in development as it directly provides export incomes to numerous small and large scale  producers, provides labour and is the second largest forex exchange earner for the country. Therefore  success of this sector largely depends on the ability of key stakeholders to meet market requirements.  Thus the thrust of this thesis was to analyze the different perspectives of standards and development in  Kenya’s horticulture sector using a macro, meso and micro level approach incorporating case studies at  each level. These different levels of analysis generate different dynamics and dimensions of the link  between standards and development.

Key findings indicate that dynamics at any of the levels alone, may not be sufficient to draw  comprehensive conclusions on the effects of standards on development. While at macro level there seems  to be a slight effect on export supply, the intricacies at the meso level paint stark inequalities in the  distributional outcomes for different players with smallholders bearing the burden for compliance and  reaping lower benefits comparatively. At micro-level the importance of intermediaries and institutions for  the participation of smallholders in high value export chains is underscored. Implications are at the  methodological, policy and institutional level. A wholistic approach to analysing standards is more  beneficial if we are to understand their policy implications on development. Furthermore institutions and  intermediaries are of greatest impact for resource poor farmers from developing countries to comply with  standards and subsequently participate in global markets.


When: 02 May 2014

Time: 14:00 – 16:00

Venue: Room 4.42



LorenzoLorenzo Pellegrini, interviewed  by the Radio AF in a programme of the Association of Foreign Affairs on Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness Index.

Lorenzo argues that it seems paradoxical that “the governance of Bhutan promotes happiness and how it measures happiness  through the Gross National Happiness Indicator without considering that some of its citizens are disenfranchised, stripped of their citizenship and property and denied their right of return”.

The interview is based on a recent publication of Pellegrini, L. and L. Tasciotti (2014). “Bhutan: Between Happiness and Horror.” Capitalism Nature Socialism (ahead-of-print): 1-7.

More on the interview can be found here (the interview with Lorenzo starts at 09:15).

Abstract: This study juxtaposes the congratulatory rhetoric surrounding Bhutan’s efforts to promote happiness and the gross violations of human rights that coincide with the happiness project. The academic debate has not reflected on the Janus-faced nature of the Bhutanese regime and the literature is replete with references to the Bhutanese happiness search. From these acclaims, it appears that the Bhutanese kingdom has overcome dialectical relationships; the government is promoting happiness for the benefit of “the people”, and “class, ethnicity and gender” and social antagonism more broadly are not current concerns. To the contrary, in this piece we highlight a gap in the scholarship on Bhutan and happiness by bringing to the fore issues that so far have been confined to specialized human rights literature, some isolated reports in the international press, and Nepali mass-media. Our aim is to bridge the intimately related issues of happiness, social struggle, and human rights in Bhutan and provide a critical reflection on the country’s experience.

The authors concluded that the assessments of the Bhutanese experience with happiness are often oblivious of the blatant violations of human rights perpetrated by the Bhutanese state. In fact, this blindness serves – knowingly or unknowingly – the purpose of identifying a “paradise on earth”, a symbol of oriental otherness and a direction to overcome the social, spiritual and environmental failings of modern Western culture. This utopian society is incidentally increasingly integrated in the global capitalist economy without corrupting its Orientalist charm and demonstrates that a Shangri-La can adopt the best of two worlds: ruled by a benevolent dictatorship caring for the happiness of citizens and powered by a modern, growing and internationally integrated economy. 


JuanResearch Problem: Despite important achievements in granting access to primary and secondary schooling,  Colombia remains to be lagged in its indicators of school performance. One unsolved issue  concerns the persistence of quality gaps between regions (municipalities). After more than  two decades of academic research informed by positivism (i.e. econometric modelling), the  problem on the causes of educational disparities remains open. Philosophically speaking,  positivist research (which relies in empiricism) fails to give an account of causal  explanations because it focuses in the statistical relation between variables, rather than in  studying the generative mechanisms behind them.  Critical Realism is presented as an ontological alternative to educational research as  it explicitly addresses the limitations of empiricism to study causality. Causal powers,  according a realist account, reside in the emergent properties of material objects and ideas.  Emergency, or the study of the conjunction of different features that give rise to new  phenomena, implies an epistemological shift (the need of retroduction) and, hence, the  employment of methodological alternatives to dominant quantitative methods.

Objective and questions: The main objective of the current research is to build a comprehensive theory to  understand why some municipalities are lagging in education quality indicators, particularly  test scores, in comparison with the rest of the country. To accomplish such task, the  project will be informed by the following questions:

1) How and to what extent do political and social actors, all interacting in pre-existent  social contexts, shape primary and secondary education outcomes in the local level?

2) What does the existence or possibility of these interactions presuppose, in terms of  pre-existent structures, vested interests and negotiation power among different  actors?

3) Is it possible to talk about an effective and pertinent education policy without  taking into account the way in which local political actors reflect on it?

Methodology: Margaret Archer’s Morphogenetic approach stands as the most elaborated framework to study  causation within the realist ontic tradition. The argument is followed by its analytical power  to capture structure, culture (or ideational) and agential emergent properties, and the way  that they transform or reproduce social structures. Ontologically speaking, the possibility of  breaking down structure and agency’s interaction by a chronological conception of their  interplay (the action of time) is helpful to understand the pre-existent, as an objective  reality that exists even if it is not captured thought human perception, and the way it can be potentially be transformed by action of human reflexivity.

The current research design proposes to start by replicating an empirical exercise  that fits into the tradition of the study of the determinants of school performance. This will  demand the use of econometric modelling (multilevel models and panel data estimators)  and will take advantage of existent official data sets that contain individual test scores,  school quality indicators and household and school variables. This first exercise will then  be contested by deploying a Morphogenetic approach to inform two case studies regarding the quality of primary and secondary education in Colombian municipalities. The cases will  be chosen among those municipalities that have shown to be persistently lagged in  standardized examination results.


When: 01 May 2014

Time: 14:00 – 16:00

Venue: Room 3.42

Juan David Parra Heredia  is EDEM PhD researcher at the International Institute of Social Studies and is a member of the Economics of Development and Emerging Markets Research Group. Part of the material discussed in this entry will be published in a book edited by the The Center for the Study of Law, Justice and Society, Dejusticia (based in Bogotá, Colombia), co-authored with Mauricio García Villegas, Felipe Jimenez and Jose Rafael Espinosa.


Alexandre Boundia ThiombianoThe livelihood of African smallholder farms is more than ever threaten by erratic climatic conditions. Already unable to produce enough food, farmers are challenged by increasing climate change. Their adaptation to climate change requires rethinking and adjusting existing production systems in order to improve nutrient balance and to ensure efficient provision of food demand. My PhD research project aims at supporting farmers with an open decision-making tool (agent-based model) for applying system design options and based on nutrient cycling. Adaptive capacities are context sensitive, the case study 1 of the PhD research project analyses farmers’ perception and actual nutrient management strategies in relation to their livelihood. The results show that though farmers perceive change in rainfall pattern over the years, few can explain these changes and link it to rational anthropogenic causes.  Existing fertility management strategies are linked to farm’s Wealth, livelihood orientation, land access, labour availability and supporting policies. The main nutrient strategies are based on fertilizer use, compost and animal dung, stone bunds and fallowing according to the livelihood profile. The wealthiest farms are more intensive in fertilizer, while the less endowed farms focused on animal dung and stone bund use. Within these classes, farmers only intensify the fertilizer use with land constraint. Middle class farms, with most educated farm head, have the most diversified nutrient management strategy and produce food with as highest yield as the wealthiest and most intensive fertilizer-user farms. This study showed that for cereal production farmers combining fertilizer and organic agriculture can be as much productive as most intensive fertilizer-user farms. Building adaptive and resilient smallholder farms requires first educating farmers on their contribution to climate change. In African countries where fertilizer access remains a big issue, policy intervention should promote sound mixed agriculture to help poor farmers be more productive in climate change context.

From: 29 April 2014 16:00
Till:    29 April 2014 17:00

Room: 4.42


About the speaker

Alexandre Boundia Thiombiano is Socio economist from University of Bobo-Dioulasso (UPB), Burkina Faso. After two years at Centre d’Analyse des Politiques Economiques et Sociales (CAPES) in Ouagadougou as research assistant, and an Msc. in natural resources management at UPB, he is since 2011 engaged in PhD studies at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi, Ghana within the regional research programme WASCAL (West African Science Service Center on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use). His PhD topic is “Developing actor-based nutrient cycles model for support building resilience of smallholder agro-ecosystems to climatic changes”. Since 1rst February 2014, Alexandre Boundia Thiombiano is academic guest of the Natural and Social Science Interface (NSSI) at the Institute for Environmental Decisions (IED) of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland for working with his PhD main supervisor Dr Quang Bao Le. The main research areas of interest of Alexandre Boundia Thiombiano are adaptation and resilience to climate change, and natural resource management. He also has interest in policy, prospective analysis, poverty analysis and livelihood in general.

Badiuzzaman presenting “New Wine in Old Bottles:  A Meta-Analysis of Foreign Direct Investment and Productivity Spillovers in Developing Countries” authored by Binyam

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Binyam presenting “Zooming into the case of Cape Verde – Part I: Before LDC graduation” authored by Djalita











Juan David presenting “The Effects of Rwanda’s National Domestic Biogas Programme on Fuel Use and Energy Expenditure” authored by Lorenzo

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Lorenzo presenting “Conflict and Fiscal Capacity” authored by Mansoob

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Mansoob presenting “Oil in the rainforests. From the opening up of Yasuni Biosphere Reserve to oil ingestion by wildlife” authored by Marti

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Marti presenting “Who pays the bill? The Impact of a Public Health Experiment in the Philippines on Hospital Charges and Out-of-Pocket Payments” authored by Natascha

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Djalita presenting “Economics After the Crisis: Introduction to Economics from a Pluralist and Global Perspective” authored by Irene

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Natascha presenting “Methodological Change in Economic Sanction Reconsidered and its Implications” authored by Peter











Rolph presenting “The financialization of the South African economy and its impact on economic growth and employment” authored by Susan

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Zalalem presenting “Community Participation and Project Outcomes: The Case of Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Program” authored by Zemzem

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Irene presenting “Households, Schools and Local Institutions: Assessing factors related to Secondary School Effectiveness in Colombia” authored by Juan David

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Peter presenting “Full Employment Target: What Lessons for a Post-2015 Development Agenda?” authored by Rolph

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Susan presenting “Channels of Impoverishment due to Ill-Health in Rural Ethiopia” authored by  Zalalem

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Arjun presenting “Livelihood Decisions under the Shadow of Conflict in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh” authored by Badiuzzaman

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Zemzem presenting “Transnational Tracking, Law Enforcement and Victim Protection: A Middleman Tracker’s Perspective” authored by Arjun

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Henry Tugendhat an organizer at Rethinking Economics visited the International Institute of Social Studies of the Erasmus University of Rotterdam – ISS – in The Hague for a presentation of ‘Rethinking Economics‘. An international network of economic students, thinkers and citizens, including those with no previous training economics who are organizing to create fresh economic narratives to challenge and enrich the predominant neoclassical narrative. The presentation began with an introduction of how ´Rethinking Economics´ is attempting to diversify and demystify economics in the public eye; by educating students in a more reflective economics and changing the curriculum at Universities. Previous to this introduction, Dr. Howard Nicholas commented on the current issues of teaching economics by mentioning the difficulties to achieve a more pluralistic view within economics at the universities around the world. Relevant questions came out during the event by the participants such as the possible implications of commoditization of academic research papers and the limitations of using quantitative methods as a research tool. This event was part of a series of activities organized by Economics of Development major 2013-2014. 







Like in any profession, scientists are frequently faced with dilemmas: Can I exclude particular observations from my research? Can I use exactly the same data set for multiple papers? Should I agree on a colleague being a co-author on a paper to which she has not made a significant contribution? By exposing you to such dilemmas in the context of a critical dialogue, this game aims to support you in further developing your own “moral compass”. This dilemma game was developed as one of the initiatives of the EUR Taskforce Scientific Integrity. The objective of the taskforce has been to raise awareness for and to develop proposals to help maintain scientific professionalism and integrity. The game lets you consider, choose and defend (and possibly reconsider) alternative courses of action regarding a realistic dilemma regarding professionalism and integrity in research.

During the EDEM away day, members of the research program participated in this dilemma game which was facilitated by Irene van Staveren. Irene explained the standard procedures to play the game followed by participants are divided into groups of four to play the game.

Irene debriefed the game played by the participants with a discussion on which topics of the games the participants feel there was a lack of consensus, and how to best address the dilemmas in our daily work in future. She also initiated a discussion on how to achieve a more commonly shared values and principles. The following dilemmas has been the most disagreed with the final choice among the players.

Pic41edFinal touches  (game no. 8): I am approached with the offer to ensure that a paper in a good journal is “ready for publication” and become co-author in return. Data analysis has already been done; the only things needed are a good positioning of the article and a good academic tone and style, which the other authors have difficulty with. The authors are known for their thorough data analysis. A review of the data by me would cost a considerable amount of time. Apart from this, I am not sure that I understand every detail of their analysis. What do I do?

A: I grab the chance of adding another publication in a good journal to my list by doing what is asked of me without getting involved in the data analysis part.

B: I insist that I receive the raw data so that I can do the analysis for myself once again, before saying yes.

C: I have the co-authors explain the data analysis to me to the extent that I can also explain it should I receive questions about the data analysis.

D: I decline the offer.


Pic44 edGrounded conclusions  (game no. 31): Today I had an appointment with one of the directors who funded the research I participated in. While discussing the draft report, it becomes clear that some of the results are not supportive of the director’s aims. He requests me to leave out some of the results. He also tells me that by helping him I can be sure of financial support in the future. Our institute depends for more than fifty per cent on this kind of external funding. What do I do?

A: I tell him that I will publish the report as it is.

B: I agree with the director that some results might be too negative and delete them from the report.

C: I do not delete the results completely but leave them out of the executive summary.

D: I tell him I will see what I can do. In reality I have no intention in making any real changes.


Pic46 edControlling my variables (game no. 49): I am a researcher in a tenure-track position and really need an additional paper to be published. The main hypothesis in the paper I am working on is that A influences B. During the research I used multiple variables for control purposes. During the analysis it becomes clear that there is no impact of A on B unless I remove one of the control variables. What do I do?

A: I remove the variable and do not mention it in my paper.

B: I remove the variable and look for scientific arguments for doing so and mention it in the paper.

C: I submit my paper without removing the variable even though it might mean that my paper will not be published.

D: I ask a peer what she would do. I follow her opinion.

More information on the dilemma game can be found here. You can also contact Irene van Staveren for any request related to the dilemma game.  

The EDEM research program has been in an away day from 10th – 11th of April 2014. The leader of the research program, Peter van Bergeijk highlighted the importance of the away day in his opening speech followed by research workshop. In the research workshop program, each member of the research program presented someone else’s research paper for about 10 minutes followed by question and answer as well as a brief explanation by author/s of the  paper. The away day also engaged in lithography workshop at Steendrukkerij Hekker (led by Peter van Bergeijk) and dilemma game (facilitated by Irene van Staveren). Finally, Peter thanked all the participants of the research program and special thanks to Susan Newman for organizing the away day.

Opening words by Peter van Bergeijk



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Research workshop








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Lithography workshop at Steendrukkerij Hekker





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Dilemma Game



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Dinner and relaxing moment at IIRE Conferentiecentrum, Amsterdam




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ECD logoAre you thirsty for new ways of thinking about economics? Do you think the economics we have been studying does not fit the economy we are living in?

The ECD Major would like to invite you to a special session of “Rethinking Economics,” an international community of economic students, thinkers and citizens, including those with no previous training in economics, who are organizing to create fresh economic narratives to challenge and enrich the predominant neoclassical narrative.

Henry Tugendhat, one of the members of Rethinking Economics in London, will provide an interesting introduction to the aim, activities and how to get involved with this organization. Howard Nicholas will be present to comment on the issue of teaching economics today.

When: 3rd April 2014

Time: 16:00-17:30

Venue: Room 3.14

More information on Rethinking Economics can be found here

About the speakers:

Henry_Tugendhat Henry Tugendhat is an organizer at Rethinking Economics in London. He comes from a development studies background and works as a research officer on agricultural development and Africa-China engagements at the Institute of Development Studies, based in the University of Sussex. ​



Howard_1Howard Nicholas a Senior Lecturer in Economics and a Convenor of the ECD Programme, International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam.

International Institute of Social Studies

Economics of Development (ECD) is a Major in the MA in Development Studies. This blog provides a platform for discussion for researchers, students and others interested in this field of studies. The blog is administered by the ECD teaching team.