Looking back at my 2014 blog posts

Before I get blogging in 2015 I want to take a moment to reflect on the most commented on, quoted or disagreed on blog articles that I have written in the last year.

Actually, one of my most popular posts was written in August 2013. The article is called “Is aid systematically unsystemic“. On this particular article I received the most e-mailed comments and also the most links from other bloggers. Since the publication of this post I have received at least 30 emails with people saying that they agreed, disagreed, or wanted to just exchange experience.

During 2014 I had three blog posts that also generated many comments and e-mails. The theme of last years posts was all about industrial policy and especially taking a bottom up perspective of how to improve the industrial system.

The three posts that stood out in terms of comments and controversy were:

Industry development under conditions of complexity – In this post I argued that under conditions of complexity, the best approach is to diagnose through intervention, which means that there is no real separation between diagnosis and intervention. While many readers working with private sector development directly agreed with my statements, some experts working on advising national governments on industrial policy strongly disagreed with my statements that you do not gain insight into a complex system through analysis.

Another post that performed well on referalls and comments was posted in the middle of the year. In Industrial policy is different at local and national levels I argued that at the local level industrial policy (or locational policy) must be much more focused on the private sector as it performs now, and what can be done by various market and non-market organizations to support the development and expansion of the private sector. Again, many economists did not agree that at the local level the approach requires a more qualitative approach that involves actually speaking to business people and representatives of development organizations on a regular basis.

In a post that had little to do with industrial policy on the surface, but more about my ongoing research into complexity thinking, I discussed the implications of recognizing competing hypothesis as an indicator of complexity. The idea of Recognizing competing hypothesis as complex  had its origins in a training session conducted by Prof Dave Snowden on complexity and decision making under conditions of uncertainty. I did not mean a hypothesis like those formulated by a PhD student or researcher, rather a hypothesis as statement of a coherent argument that seems plausable. The link between this article and the rest of my posts is that in industrial policy there are often preferred or desired hypothesis or states that are being pursued, even if they are not explicitly formulated as hypotheses. I tried to argue that keeping our options open or even purposefully increasing the range of options is desirable.

Thank you to all my readers who have written comments and have e-mailed me about these posts. I understand that registering an account on WordPress may be a bit of a hassle, so I thank those that have gone through the trouble and that are always willing to comment and contribute. Thank you also for the tweets and reposts on other sites. Prof Tim Kastelle, my favorite guru on innovation deserves as special mention.

I will start writing again within the next few days. I just wanted to take a moment and reflect on the most influential past posts. Let me know which posts you printed, saved or forwarded, and which posts you think should be expanded upon!



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Shawn Cunningham

I am passionate about how organisations and institutions change in developing and transitioning countries. I essentially work between organisations, communities, industries and experts.

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