Leading Economic Growth

Leading Economic Growth brings together leading experts in economic development with practitioners from around the globe to focus on practical approaches to shared growth and development. The curriculum provides a framework for understanding economic growth, as well as sophisticated tools for diagnosis, decision making, and implementation. The concepts and frameworks you learn will allow you to design effective strategies for economic growth and will be applied to your own economic growth challenge that you are addressing in your city, region or country.

Blogs written by our LEG participants

4 mins read

Constraints faced by MSMEs hindering economic growth in Equatorial Guinea

Guest blog written by Cesar A. Mba Abogo I signed up for the Implementing Public Policy (IPP) course after having completed Leading Economic Growth (LEG), where my understanding of the economic growth challenges facing my country, Equatorial Guinea, had been literally reset. Attending LEG was a bit of cathartic therapy for me, as I had been Minister of Finance, Economy and Planning in a particularly exceptional period. From April 2019 to October 2020, Equatorial Guinea had closed a bailout programme with the IMF and launched a wide-ranging catalogue of macro-fiscal stabilisation and governance improvement measures. In the midst of these

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6 mins read

Adventures in Public Policy Implementation: Confronting a Hero Complex in the Quest for the One True Goal

(aka The One with the Giant Marshmallow Monster) Guest blog by Mario Ivan Martija “Select a policy you would like to implement in the next six months” said the IPP program’s instructions. Easy. Having previously led programs that benefited a few Baja California’s industries, choosing another program for a successful short-term implementation would be a walk in the park, especially that now I would have the added-value and glamour attached to a Harvard methodology. Or so I arrogantly thought.

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6 mins read

Promoting design for global business in Brazil

Guest blog by Isabel Tarrisse da Fontoura “The flow of life envelopes everything. That’s life: it heats up and cools down, it tightens and then loosens up, it becomes calm and then unrests. What it wants from us is courage”. João Guimaraes Rosa 1. An act of courage The Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) program Implementing Public Policy (IPP) is an act of courage. It is so from the day you decide to commit to six months of action learning in the middle of a global pandemic to, today, as we end this journey with 142 peers from 47 countries and the

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2 mins read

Using a problem-driven approach in Ethiopia

Guest blog by Abdu Nuru It was my director in my department who sent the email to us briefing us about the program. It specifically addressed those who were in a more senior leadership level as it would be more important. I read the whole email and I knew it wasn’t meant for me because it said case team leaders and blah blah blah. And I thought who said that? The last thing I could get is rejection and if I am accepted, it would be a great experience. I applied and I was admitted. That was my journey to

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1 min read

Evaluating ecomonic growth in Ethiopia

Guest blog by Mohamed Omer Hussein It was a very beneficial course for me. I learned a lot from it. The Atlas of Economic Complexity is a godsend. It has detailed information about the imports and exports as well as the exact composition of the economic and trade activities of my country, Ethiopia. It’s also very customizable and visually appealing, and you can get what you want from it.

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Diversifying the ICT market in Brazil

Guest blog by Marcia Matsubayashi If I could summarize this course experience in one word it is “inspiring”. I am sure all my colleagues who attended this course were inspired by the faculty to mobilize for action, since we feel more empowered (and knowledgeable) to make the impact in our societies.

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Exploring electromobility in Latin America

Guest blog by Raúl Rodríguez Molina I decided to enroll in the IPP program as a continuation of the Leading Economic Growth Program, which I found extremely interesting. LEG gave me the opportunity to engage in group work methodologies, like PDIA, which somehow I have seen being implemented but not formally, not following a rigorous process. I am working as an infrastructure specialist for an international development bank, the Inter-American Development Bank. Supporting countries to design effective policies for which the Bank provides financial and technical resources is the core of my job. We (the IABD) are not policy makers, but

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8 mins read

Building ownership for growth strategy in Mexico

Guest blog by Agustin Filippo Economic development is predicated under the assumption that it is possible to lift people out of poverty, which is the reason that attracted so many people to the field (myself included). Countries that managed to succeed end up with a diversified and sophisticated product mix. More importantly, these economies are change-ready, and will constantly find new products and services to use themselves and exchange with the world. In the 10-week LEG program at Harvard, great care is paid to identify with precision the mechanics of economic growth and what can be done to ignite and

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4 mins read

Leading Economic Growth: Adapting the Wyoming Energy Industry

Guest blog by Kaeci Daniels What are some key ideas/learnings that you will take away from this course? 1804 as a communication tool – The 1804 example was a good analogy to get people to understand that the problem is hard to understand. Using this example as a communication tool may be a great way to get buy-in and resources for the growth strategy team. Fishbone Diagram – The fishbone diagram to is a great tool to find entry points on complex problems. Crafting the right team to develop the fishbone diagram is essential for fully grasping the growth problem

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4 mins read

Developing the national business climate policy for Morocco

Guest blog by Abderrazak Mourchid When I applied for the Harvard Kennedy School IPP training in May 2020, I was looking to build up my capacity in public policy implementation, especially since I was mandated by the Head of Government of Morocco to develop the national business climate policy for Morocco for the next five years. It was the first time I had been invited to carry out such a strategic exercise for my country. The complexity of the exercise lies in the fact that it involves a variety of stakeholders and that it was necessary to determine the priorities for

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3 mins read

Supporting women entrepreneurs in Afghanistan

Guest blog by Renata Rubian What are some key ideas/learnings that you will take away from this course? I have truly enjoyed my experience with the Harvard Leading Economic Growth course. It is a pleasure to experience the dynamics between the brilliant duo – Prof. Ricardo Hausmann and Prof. Matt Andrews – given their approaches and explanations are complementary. Some of my key take away include: (i) Understanding inequality as a significant cost and impediment to sustainable economic growth, which elevates the need to think about how to generate shared prosperity and growth that is inclusive by looking at multidimensional aspects

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2 mins read

Breaking down an insurmountable challenge

Guest blog by Gonzalo Pizarro I joined the Leading Economic Growth (LEG) executive education course along with two colleagues from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with a growth challenge which seemed clear yet insurmountable: Providing the city of Kabul, in Afghanistan with an economic growth strategy after the government collapse, deterioration of security, massive exodus of people, and freezing of international aid, which represented 43% of GDP in 2019. “Lack of political will across the board to negotiate a solution” – and – “nothing can be done until the security situation improves” were the two tenets that were a

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5 mins read

Addressing economic growth in the Middle East

Guest blog by Anton Osin The course has been a journey, and it has exceeded my expectations as it provided me with deeper understanding of several economic concepts and gave me exposure to HKS faculty and peers students from across the globe. The intensity of this course and the volume of information gradually transformed into quality and deeper understand of economic concepts and case studies.

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Improving economic complexity and diversity in Afghanistan

Guest blog by Rishi Chakraborty There are several key learnings that I will take away from this course. The first key learning for me was the novel way of thinking about development from the perspective of economic complexity and diversity, especially in terms of production/exports through the analogy of the forest with “branches”, “peripheries”, and “central clusters” of the Product Space. In all of my years of having studied economics at the BA and MA levels, this analogy of a forest and “monkeys” in the Product Space has been the most intuitive that I have encountered to date to describe

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The Brilliant Citizen and the Economist: Learnings from Leading Economic Growth

Guest blog by Esther Adegunle Brilliant Citizen: My dear Economist, I have not seen you in a very long time. What is going on? Economist: I had a baby about 3 months ago. Also, I was engaged in a program at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS). Brilliant Citizen: Wow, congratulations to you and the family. You mean you were attending a training after giving birth? Economist: Thank you. It was quite an intensive one. I am thankful for my support system, they made it possible for me to attend. Also, the training was online, so I did not need to travel.

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Can the private sector help to pave the way to tackle complex challenges in the Northern Triangle of Central America?

written by José Eguigure and Daniel Barjum  A few weeks ago, Vice President Kamala Harris, and other top officials, including Samantha Power, Administrator of the United States Agency of International Development, and former professor at Harvard University, attended the inauguration of Xiomara Castro as the first female President of Honduras in its 200 years of independence. According to several sources, including the New York Times, this is a clear statement of the U.S. foreign policy on strengthening its ties within the Northern Triangle of Central America, and represents a good opportunity to pave the way in tackling complex challenges in Honduras,

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3 mins read

Health system transformation in Poland

Guest blog by Robert Moldach I am fortunate to live in times when Europe and Poland in particular have undergone an incredible transformation. As a child, I remember the street protests my parents took part in, their talks about the Warsaw Pact troops invading Czechoslovakia, and the anti-Semitic campaign of the late 1960s. My student years coincided with the Solidarity uprising and the martial law that followed. The beginning of my academic career fell during a time of darkness and total economic collapse of the system. Then, in 1989, came the country’s revival, changes in the political system, and economic revolution.

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2 mins read

Making problems more approachable using PDIA

Guest blog by Ileana Ferber For a professional that has been dreaming of working in international development her whole life, the LEG program has been one of the best learning experiences that I have had so far. I like to learn, so that is why I am continuously taking courses and building on my skills. This program has given the tools that I need to follow when trying to solve a problem. I used to see them as macro problems (and they still are), but after learning the PDIA process, problems seem to be more approachable than before. It has given

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5 mins read

Responding to economic collapse in Venezuela

Guest blog by Ana Maria Chirinos Leanez After almost two years since the COVID19 pandemic started, policymakers and governments continue struggling with questions on how to deal with concerns on economic growth challenges and how to promote countries’ recovery more sustainably and inclusively. Those topics are very well discussed by the Leading Economic Growth program developed by the Harvard Kennedy School in collaboration with the Center for International Development (CID). It is a ten-week executive program that provides tools for the diagnosis and decision-making related to growth and development for practitioners worldwide. As a Venezuelan macroeconomist who has been analyzing her

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3 mins read

11 lessons and insights from Leading Economic Growth

Guest blog by Marcia Korsten A great thing about this programme is that it highlighted that context matters for an economic growth strategy and that unique and differentiated approaches that fit the specific context are needed. On the other hand, another great thing is that the lessons and principles of Leading Economic Growth can be applied across various economic growth and development challenges and within a national and subnational context. Looking at the economic challenge of inclusive growth and jobs I have experienced both as part of LEG 2021 and as a member of Group 11 where I was fortunate to

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5 mins read

The survival of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in India using PDIA

Guest blog by Tapasya Obhrai Nair The journey through the IPP course has been like the pilgrims’ progress. Every stop has given some insight and revelation and shown the path to the next stop or destination. I signed up for this course to learn from other practitioners of public policy about their experiences and the alternative ways of approaching problems. I felt that the course would equip me with new tools and methodologies to better understand issues and to find ways of addressing them. It has been more than a satisfying experience for me in this respect.

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4 mins read

Budgeting, planning, and economic strategy in Mozambique

Guest blog by Bruce Byiers Several years ago, I was involved in what seemed like quite a practical, consultative – perhaps even problem-driven – project in Mozambique: to better connect their ‘plan’, their ‘budget’ and their medium-term expenditure framework. As one might expect, this entailed multiple internal meetings in the Ministry of Finance, meetings with line Ministry staff involved, meetings with provincial staff, and workshops to discuss ways to link these connected but separate budget and planning processes. We came up with an agreed approach. But it was agreed at the technical level. The Minister never bought it. And so it

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4 mins read

Exploring economic diversification in Azerbaijan

Guest blog by Gasimli Vusal “Leading Economic Growth” program gave us the know-how we can start implementing to promote economic growth in our city, region, or country at this difficult time. Staff ensured us that the more we invest, the more we will derive from the program.  My country, Azerbaijan, tripled its economy during the last 15 years and aims to double its economy relying on non-oil sector in the next 10 years. In post-conflict and post-pandemic period, accelerating growth is major target of Azerbaijan’s five national priorities outlined in the country’s “2030 Strategy,” which has been based on the United Nations’

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5 mins read

Developing the agriculture sector in Gabon

Guest blog by Dadja Tabo My background and goals As a leader of audit and advisory assignments working in a Big 4 consulting firm, I have developed an expertise in accompanying public sector clients (ministries, central administrations, states owned companies) in different fields of public policy making, policy evaluation (SMEs & private sector, investment promotion strategy, development of agricultural sector). While attending HKS programs, I expected to enhance my capabilities in economic development and public policy matters such as: (i) understanding key concepts of economic growth, (ii) acquiring tools to design, implement and assess public policies in the perspective of growth,

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2 mins read

Examining economic inequity in King County, Washington

Guest blog by Allison Ashton Growth challenge: My growth challenge is regional economic inequity. The reason it matters is because BIPOC communities, women, and workers with lower levels of educational attainment in King County are experiencing increasing barriers to opportunity that inhibit their success and potential to contribute to and benefit from our tremendous regional economic success. Country/region/municipality: King County, WA, USA King County, Washington, is currently experiencing simultaneous crises in public health, the economy, and social justice. The ripple effects of these crises are likely to last many years into the future and change our society forever. While challenging, these

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1 min read

Where know-how and action were missing

Guest blog written by Molebogeng Amanda (Tshoma) Mazibuko For five years, I have had a vision to help a specific group of people; a relegated and prejudiced gender with immense potential to create positive economic impact. I have written strategic documents and struggled to match them to executable plans; either because of authority or know-how related challenges. As noble my intention was to help, I just did not have the know-how and had no idea of how to accumulate it. My ‘laundry-list’ approach led to an aggregation of factors to a point where the real root cause was hidden under a symptom.  

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3 mins read

Creating Space for Better Post-Covid Public Policy Spending

written by Matt Andrews Governments across the world are struggling with the many policy challenges wrought by Covid-19. While this pandemic is not yet over, many are already thinking about the recovery to come. Governments will undoubtedly be needed in this recovery process, helping people get back to normal or charting new paths to better normals—what some call ‘building back better’.  I fear that governments are set to fail in their efforts to provide such help, however, because of limits to the budgetary and policy prioritization space needed to address post-Covid needs. Will we have enough money to build back

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1 min read

Reflections on LEG 2021 from Tanzania

Guest blog by Abdirehman Ahmad The course has been useful to understanding many concepts of economic growth. I have been learning new things from the first day to the last. The key ideas that will be takeaways are: The PDIA approach to tackling growth challenges. We often think of one-size-fits-all but in this concept, we learnt tailor-made solutions for every problem. Identifying the binding constraint among others. The idea of breaking down the big problem to smaller problems in a fish bone. Identifying who you need on board in tackling each small problem. The concept of inclusion among regions and distribution

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2 mins read

Exploring export diversification in Trinidad and Tobago

Guest blog by Lebrechtta Hesse-Bayne The leading economic growth 2021 course exceeded my expectation. While the course overview gave an idea of what to expect, the tools provided were the icing on the cake. I am taking away from this course the key learnings or applying the Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA) approach. This step-by-step process helps you break down your problems into their root causes. One can identify entry points, search for possible solutions, take action, reflect upon what you have learned, adapt and then act again; this was an innovative learning experience. Practitioners most often think they know the

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3 mins read

Resiliency and sustainability: Key Takeaways from LEG2020

Guest blog by Mathias McCauley What are some key ideas/learnings that you will take away from this course? The initial lectures on the “product space” and “PDIA” were fascinating and valuable to me.  Additionally, because of the nature of my organization and the state the region is located in (Michigan), I now believe that the most likely entry point for positive change is located within “acceptance” and “ability,” not “authority.” Beginning with acceptance, my organization and I must (and will) continue framing the issue as critical to the long-term prosperity and health of the region. Data shows that rural regions like mine

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3 mins read

Lack of diversity in Mongolian exports: Effects on employment & productivity

Guest blog by Suzanna Sumkhuu Over the past 4 years, I have been working at the country’s development policy planning reform, streamlining legislative, institutional and policy mechanisms. On this journey, I have encountered two contrasting views: necessity for strong central planning systems vs abolish the government and leave everything to the market economy. Because Mongolia has such a strong history of central planning under Socialist rule, the public view is also differing. I knew from the get-go that neither absolute form of these contrasting options could deliver on today’s socio-economic and planetary needs. Hence, I have been searching like a nomad

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Developing Economic Complexity in Western Australia’s remote, sparsely populated regional centres

Guest blog by Giles Tuffin 1. Some of the key insights I have learnt include: Just because your region produces raw goods (like iron ore) doesn’t mean that you should be making downstream goods from it (like steel). The raw goods are available on the open market, and can be easily shipped to your nearest port. On the other hand, cost of transporting manufactured goods is far higher. So you must have a very strong competitive advantage to make it worth producing downstream goods from your raw products. PDIA is an excellent approach to solving complex problems. Some key insights are:

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7 mins read

The case for a New Development Strategic plan in Cameroon

Guest blog by Boris Owona, Senior Civil Administrator at the Cameroon Prime Minister’s Office I started this IPP program after completing the Emerging Leaders and Public Financial Management programs with a solid foundation of what public policies can look like in a bureaucratic setting. In fact, coming into the course, I felt quite satisfied with my own policy-making abilities, but I was still looking for a more practical insight that can be helpful to explain the causal strains that explain why Government fails or succeeds in each context and what could be the solutions on the way forward. Now, I have

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6 mins read

Tackling limited diversification and decreasing exports in Ethiopia

Guest blog by Yilma Nati Tefsu I want to start my answer to the final week of this amazing course by saying something different, something that has nothing to do with the question above but a reflection of the many positives I have gotten from this course and the great people I have met along the way. This course has not only taught me the means and tools to tackle my growth challenge but also has introduced me to as a set of like-minded and brilliant people who are seeking change and growth in their own little worlds, whatever shape that

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6 mins read

Panama Embassy official writes about promoting US-Panama trade ties

Guest blog by Franklin Morales, Head of Commercial and Economic Affairs at the Embassy of Panama in the United States. A few years ago, I became a diplomat of my country in the United States.  Over time, I gained more responsibility until I became the Head of the Commercial and Economic Section. I am responsible for investment promotion and building partnerships with the American private sector. Although I had previous experience in partnership building, I realized I needed additional tools to tackle some of the policy challenges I was facing.  I wanted to affect change and create public value, but

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3 mins read

Recovering better after COVID: Lao PDR

Guest blog by Felipe Morgado Enrolling in the Leading Economic Growth executive programme at Harvard Kennedy School has been a tremendously enriching experience. I am impressed with the number of key ideas and learnings covered over the past ten weeks across both the theory of economic growth and the practice of leadership in public policy. They will certainly have an impact as I continue to build my career at the United Nations. As an economist by training, I joined the course already with a solid background in development economics. However, I was eager to learn more about Prof. Hausmann’s work on

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5 mins read

How Benin can lead post-COVID economic recovery

Guest blog by Thierno Olory-Togbe As a Principal Legal Counsel at the African Legal Support Facility, I have the opportunity to advise African governments facing inadequate capacities in strategic sectors such as sovereign debt, infrastructure and natural resources.  Despite the increased efforts of African governments in improving public sector efficiency, the optimization of benefits from the exploitation of natural resources and economic diversification remain critical to reduce poverty on the continent. The current COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant global economic and financial crisis have led to major disruptions for African governments in the achievement of their development objectives. This challenge requires

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4 mins read

Understanding the problem is critical to policy implementation

Guest blog by Mustapha Samateh After 11 years of public service- 7 years at the Central Bank and 4 years as Director at Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, I joined the private sector a year ago serving as the Deputy Managing Director at the Investment and Commerce bank.  My experience in public sector made me believe that there is more than enough good public policy. The problem is implementation. This motivated me to take the Online Harvard Executive Education Program on Implementing Public Policy (IPP). My expectation at the beginning of the course was that I will learn a lot

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Building the foundation for economic growth in Burkina Faso

Guest blog by Gillesamadou Ouedraogo “We do not inherit the land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children”. A saying that paints well what I’ve gleaned from this insightful journey. This class has helped me come to the realization that growth stems from a meticulous, intentional, minute, and coordinated ensemble of efforts deployed to a very specifically determined end, it will never occur accidentally. If planned growth efforts often fail it’s because it is a process, iterative in nature, that is disruption averse and responds well to consistent application of policy translated into action. It requires a concerted coordination

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Youth Unemployment in Kenya: My Journey as a Leading Economic Growth Student

Guest blog by Albert Waudo What can I say?  This has been one of most interesting trainings I have attended in a while.  Right from the first class where we were asked to think about crossing a country in 2015 with a well-drawn map versus crossing the same country in 1804 when there was no map in existence.  This class sort of felt like the 1804 case.  I came into the class with a preconceived notion on economic growth and a set of ideas of how my growth challenge should be tackled by my organization and government, but I as

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5 mins read

Impact of COVID-19 on Benin Republic’s Economy

Guest blog by Aadam Soulebon My expectations: When I was offered to sign up for the online version of this program, at first glance, I had concerns. This was my very first HKS course. Indeed, I was afraid that the resulting interaction would not add a substantial value to me besides the class materials. I was looking for something to solidify my competence in the field of public policies as a practitioner but also the HARVARD experience, the interaction with teachers but also the richness of exchanges with classmates. Guess what: I’ve had a lot more than I can put into

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5 mins read

What if it’s not broken yet?

Guest blog by Carmel Quin Western Australia is a prosperous State in a diverse and wealthy country. Our growth challenge is not one that we experience today – but one that looms large on the horizon.  Much of the State’s wealth comes from the export of non-renewable commodities – natural resources that will not last forever. If we want to maintain our standard of living in the future, it is vital that new drivers of growth are developed. The question I, and many others, have sought to understand is – what might these new growth opportunities be and how can we

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1 min read

Apply for our Leading Economic Growth Program Now!

We are offering Leading Economic Growth online again from October 4 – December 10th 2021. Application deadline is September 13th, 2021. Stimulating growth is the top economic priority for many countries and localities around the world. Yet many are trapped, lacking the productive capability to solve problems and expand to new industries to drive development. New growth strategies need paths, processes and organizations to address this problem. Sophisticated Tools. Practical Approaches. Leading Economic Growth brings together leading experts in economic development with practitioners from around the globe to focus on practical approaches to shared growth and development. Led by Professor Ricardo Hausmann

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6 mins read

A Hands-on Deconstruction of Youth Unemployment in Kenya

Guest blog by Moses Sitati When I received a work email asking for my interest in taking the Leading Economic Growth course, I quickly had a look and was not entirely sure that it was the one for me. I did some quick mental calculation to check whether it made sense for me to devote scarce extra hours from my heavily stretched bandwidth for a 10 week period – I am so glad that it did. Applying to the program required sharing an economic growth challenge that you intended to work during the program. This was very practical for me as

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4 mins read

Promoting Equitable Investment and Job Generation in Fort Worth, Texas

Guest blog by Robert Sturns When I began the Leading Economic Growth program, my goal was really driven by a desire to understand how we could have a more equitable distribution of investment and jobs throughout my community. As we really begin to dig into issues of economic complexity, I discovered that our issue was much larger than just ensuring an equitable distribution of jobs. We really needed to focus on driving overall investment to the community as a first step and then ensure that those opportunities were experienced across the City. You can see this shift in thinking occur as

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3 mins read

Promoting agricultural sector products to diversify the economy in Mongolia

Guest blog by Batjargal Khandjav The Leading Economic Growth Program has been an absolutely inspiring intellectual journey for me during COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. It was a unique opportunity to reflect on key principles of economic growth while using toolset to better understand the unfolding of policy choices and drivers of economic growth for my own country. The breadth of the information and cases from around the world brought by the course and participants helped me to confront ideas and challenge existing ones. The weekly assignments that relied on information obtained during the weeks are very engaging and the comments provided by

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4 mins read

Tackling high rates of poverty and low growth among MSMEs in Nigeria

Guest blog by Member Feese My key learning from the Leading Economic Growth course is how to effectively define a challenge / problem using the 5-whys technique and not use the solution to define the problem. For instance, the definition of my first economic problem was lack of transportation infrastructure in Nigeria, however, I discovered that that definition was narrow and did not identify the main problem of why transportation infrastructure was lacking. Using the 5-whys technique, I was able to redirect my challenge to tackling high rates of poverty and low growth rate among Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs),

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6 mins read

Troubled Waters Under the Bridge: Time for Inclusive Growth in Equatorial Guinea

Guest blog by Cesar Augusto Mba Abogo Equatorial Guinea (EG) is a little known country. In fact, Wikipedia in its entry on the country warns not to confuse it with Guinea Conakry and Guinea Bissau. In the period between the month of April 2019 and the month of October 2020, I had the honor of serving as Minister of Finance, Economy and Planning in probably the darkest economic downturn the country has known since the mid-nineties of the twentieth century when it became a producer and exporter of hydrocarbons. At the end of 2019, the country was beginning to emerge

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5 mins read

What Scrabble-playing Monkeys Have to Do with Contractors in Texas: Lessons from Leading Economic Growth

Guest blog by Maggie Jones Finding contractors in Texas right now is hard. Really hard. Finding contractors to work on a niche federally-funded home repair program with lots of red tape and paperwork is nearly impossible. Or so we thought. Fortunately for us, the many lessons from Leading Economic Growth over the last 10 weeks have been and will be put to work over the months and years (and then some) to come, not only for this particular challenge, but for future obstacles as well. Society knows more, not because individuals know more, but because individuals know different. What a relief!

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7 mins read

Addressing Economic Constraints in Libya

Guest blog by Saleh Abdallah Frankly, when I applied for Leading Economic Growth course, I had a different set of mind of what would this course be like at the end of 10 weeks. I have worked in bi-lateral and multi-lateral development institutions and as a consultant with the African Development Bank who has been implementing a ten-year Strategy to improve the quality of Africa’s inclusive growth, and the transition to green growth. I was not sure whether I would participate in this course as I was heavily engaged with heading an energy corporation that acquired many hours of work

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5 mins read

How PDIA helped me build Nigeria’s poverty alleviation plan

Guest blog by Tayo Aduloju The HKS Implementing Public Policy Executive Program appealed to me because I was looking for an alternative to planning and control styled approaches which I had learnt, known and practised for most of my career and considering the challenging problems I faced daily at the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, I needed a capacity upgrade. The IPP has been a significant deviation from many the other Executive Programs at the HKS I have attended: it underpinned learning by doing; its iterative and group learning dynamics was useful in debating broad-based, cross-multidisciplinary applications and experiences that were very

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6 mins read

Fast-tracking Nigeria’s economic recovery

Guest blog by Member Feese When I registered for the course my conception of public policy was the public definition – a course of action developed by a government in response to public problems. However, I was pleasantly surprised when the course began. I realised that public policy is not only for government but for all citizens that want to make a positive impact in society. I came into the course with a goal to developing a policy that will help to reduce the level of poverty in the Nigeria. Nigeria is one of the most resourced countries in the world,

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9 mins read

Reflecting on the Growth of Agriculture in Albania

Guest blog written by Lorena Pullumbi The Leading Economic Growth course has been an absolutely inspiring intellectual journey for me. Having taken place during unprecedented times and mostly under lockdown, it was a unique opportunity to truly reflect on key principles of economic growth while using that toolset to better understand the unfolding of policy choices and drivers of economic growth for my own country (as a policy professional working for the administration, you don’t always get that chance often). The world class academic excellence was a major driving force that triggered my intellectual curiosity and led me to deepen the involvement with course material and do further research, whereas the way the on-­‐line learning platform was designed made the course a delightful experience that I was looking forward to, every time I switched back from my day job. Admittedly, coming from a background of political science and international relations, I had some initial self-­‐hesitation as to what level I would be able to absorb and internalize concepts from economic theory. Those doubts were slowly overshadowed by the exiting content that I read during the week and the engagement of faculty during live session discussions that made the course look highly practical and versatile to many situations around the developing world. Because of the breadth of information and cases from around the world brought by faculty and participants, it was easier to confront ideas and challenge existing ones. The design of weekly assignments in the form of a snowball (or rather straw rolls) that relied on information obtained during the weeks and build towards a final strategy to promote economic growth were a very engaging and demanding task that helped me to stay focused and better adapt abstract ideas and principles taught during in the course, in a concrete environment and circumstances of my country.

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11 mins read

Can PDIA approaches help to enhance the development of Institutional Strategies in Multilateral Organizations

Guest blog written by Francisco Castro-y-Ortíz I work for a multilateral development organization—the Inter-American Development Bank—and am a citizen from a Latin-American Middle-Income Country (MIC). Because of this background, the main economic problem I am most concerned about relates to my own country—Mexico—and the Latin-American and Caribbean region (LAC) as a whole. It is about low average growth rates—for more than two decades already. Low growth matters in LAC because it increases the risks of regression, particularly to poverty and other human-development and sustainability metrics. Such an outcome may erase the hard-earned development gains of the last two decades. Furthermore,

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4 mins read

Leading Economic Growth in Kazakhstan

Guest blog written by Baur Bektemirov There is an old cliché that crisis is an opportunity. In my case, the Great Lockdown has certainly become an opportunity to learn and even re-think my work as the Chief Economist for a government organization, which just recently was tasked with an expanded role to help the government to attract more investment and contribute to the economic growth. The Leading Economic Growth program has helped me to assess, once again, the main problems and obstacles for the economic development of Kazakhstan, look for the real roots of these problems (the binding constraints), analyze

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5 mins read

Learning to Crawl: Can a Health Financing Reform Unshackle Ukraine’s Growth Potential?

Guest blog written by Dzhygyr Yuriy Through past two decades, Ukraine has been steadily descending the Atlas economic complexity ranking list, going down from #30 in 2001 to #50 in 2016. At the lowest border of the second highest quintile, it is a relatively advanced economy and was assessed by Ricardo Hausmann’s international complexity simulations as having a significant potential to “move in all directions”. However, it currently remains invariably focused on agriculture and metals, exporting mainly to the immediate neighbors (Russian Federation and Poland), and has been gradually retreating from the more complex markets such as for vehicles, industrial

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7 mins read

Learning about Economic Growth in Angola

Guest blog written by  Noelma Viegas D’Abreu  I: Key Ideas and Learning LEG helped me demystify something very important: Economy is not only a science of accounting, finance, taxes and interest. Over the years, I was curious about economic theories and some approaches, reading and studying phenomena of leadership, change, growth, politics and development in some countries. I tried to find out why, as some countries did long jumps and others were or are stuck in the middle of their own problems and poverty, for years.  Not to mention the fact that more inclusive, democratic , with best governance, ethics

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5 mins read

Top 10 Things I learned from Leading Economic Growth

Guest blog written by Robert Trewartha   To be honest, I was “volun-told” into this course by the Mayor. I had joined her for the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative in 2019-20 and learned a great deal. This opportunity came along at a time when we were in the height of managing the COVID-19 pandemic in our City. I was not sure I wanted to take on school on top of my 60+ hour work weeks, but I am quite glad that I did. While I am not an economist by training, I found that I was able to keep up and

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6 mins read

Wrapping Up: My Leading Economic Growth Journey

Guest blog written by Penelope Tainton I’ve made some interesting choices in my life. They may not always have been the best decisions for my own long-term prospects, but without fail, they have taken me on journeys of discovery and growth. Always stemming from my over-riding desire to “fix” things, to contribute, to make a difference, to bring about positive change in areas that matter to me, these have not been easy pathways to tread. But, along the way, I have met amazing fellow-travellers who care deeply, who are driven by purpose, who – twee as it may sound –

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3 mins read

Seeking the Next Gear for a Country with 30 Years of Continuous Growth

Guest blog written by Jacek Kotrasinski  Being from Poland, a country that recorded the unprecedented last 30 years of continuous economic growth, I came to the LEG Program to find out how to “Lead the Economic Growth” further.  I have lived in exceptional times in Poland over the last 40 years. I witnessed the collapse of communism in 1989 and the country’s transformation into the market economy based on the neoliberal model. Then I experienced Poland’s economic growth and integration with the Western political and economic structures – the NATO and the European Union (EU) in the 2000s. And recently,

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4 mins read

Economic Growth in Liberia: 10 Weeks to Remember

Guest blog written by Fred D. Koilor What if this was a one-week journey? Well, many things about the Leading Economic Growth (Online) course probably would not have been the same. Firstly, I can certainly say that students would not have had ample time to digest the course materials and make adequate appreciation of knowledge acquired during the ten weeks. Secondly, the one week on campus would not have given us the opportunity to reach out to institutions and development stakeholders for vital pieces of information, which helped to shape our understanding of the lecture materials discussed during the course.

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6 mins read

Developing a Strategy for the Border Region between Australia and PNG

Guest blog written by Geoff King Having worked as a development professional for the better part of two decades, I was hoping Leading Economic Development would deliver a few additional tools I could add to my well worn tool belt. However, in several fundamental ways it has led to the evolution of my thinking and changed my practice.   Growth diagnostics informed by complexity analysis, have changed the way I view the challenge of economic development.  The method, presented using accessible analogies, are powerful analytical tools that can help identify points of entry for further diagnosis/analysis informing economic development strategy.  I will never

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6 mins read

Learning to Lead Economic Growth during COVID-19

Guest blog written by Yakama Jones My country suffered from the Ebola crisis six years ago, experienced negative growth rates and is yet to attain pre-Ebola growth rates. It is in the midst of the recovery process that the current Corona pandemic has struck. There is a general scale down in economic activities, rise in employment, and risks of food insecurity in vulnerable households. This is coupled with existing challenges in human capital development and infrastructure. The introduction of movement and social distancing restrictions in a bid to ‘flattening the curve’ has exacerbated already existing multi-dimensional poverty and social protection

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6 mins read

4 Ways to Rethink Economic Growth During COVID-19

Guest blog written by Manuela Fulga The pandemic threatens to erase years of progress made by developing and emerging economies towards sustainable development. The World Bank estimates that between 71 and 100 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty in 2020, increasing the global extreme poverty rate for the first time in more than 40 years. This realization convinced me to apply to the “Leading Economic Growth” course at Harvard Kennedy School. My objective was to explore and learn practical strategies that countries can adopt in the current context, particularly with limited resources and tight fiscal spaces, in order

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6 mins read

LA FÁBRICA, a strategy for the economic transformation and social inclusion of Renca, a commune in Chile

Guest blog written by Gabriela Elgueta P  In the midst of the pandemic, I began this course when Chile had 300 deaths and 27,219 infections. Today, at the end of this process, I have to regret a total of 7,186 deaths and a total of 321,205 infections, mostly affecting the most vulnerable population, amplifying the effects of the social inequality in which most Chileans live.  For 10 weeks I have been inserted in a process of combined learning between the conceptualization of economic growth and global trends with the contrasting reality of a vulnerable commune in the metropolitan area of

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2 mins read

Learning about Economic Growth in the Middle of a Pandemic

Guest blog written by Beenish Amjad I was afraid that the onslaught of the pandemic would have devastating impact on a developing country like Pakistan which has a strong history of sluggish economic growth and long-standing need-base relationship with the IMF. The economy in 2019 was weakening and poverty (headcount poverty ratio 24.3) and inequality (Gini coefficient of 33.5) was rising. COVID-19 has not only pushed more people to the below-poverty line but also strained the Federal budget due to the substantial allocation to the Conditional Cash Transfer Program (Benazir Income Support Program now Ehsaas). In the midst of the

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6 mins read

A Problem-driven Approach to Complexity, Public Policy and Economic Growth

Guest blog written by Claudio Roberto Amitrano What is development? How is it driven? How can we get there? Who is it for? What do countries have in common? What are their specific problems? How do we identify them? How do we find solutions? Who will lead, authorize, design and implement them? Who are ‘We’ and how do we build the ‘Sense of us’? What can we learn from the policymaking process, working in multi-agent teams and doing things together?  These issues come to my mind when I think about the Leading Economic Growth (LEG) course from Harvard Kennedy School.

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6 mins read

Congo Calling Rebooted

Guest blog written by Bandi Mbubi At the beginning of 2019, Harvard Kennedy School invited me to apply for its executive program in Implementing Public Policy. The letter was timely as it arrived when I was reflecting on my life and considering my next moves. The more I read about the course, the more I was convinced that it was meant for me. It promised to teach effective techniques of policy analysis and implementation, with a particular emphasis on policy solutions to wicked problems, which greatly appealed to me. I faced a dilemma though: which of the two projects, I am

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9 mins read

Growth after the Coronavirus: Thoughts and Questions

written by Matt Andrews A lot of  people ask me how governments should support economic growth in the period ‘After Coronavirus’. It is a vital question that I wrestle with daily in preparing  for the forthcoming Leading Economic Growth Online executive education program (which I teach with my amazing colleague, Ricardo  Hausmann). Here are some of my personal thoughts on the issue. 1.  I believe we must focus on future growth, even if it seems misplaced in the current crisis At times in the last few weeks I  have found myself asking if I am a little tone deaf focusing

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5 mins read

Jumping the Wall

Guest blog written by Mohamed Hejres I applied for this course as I was seeking clarity on best practice and innovation that would support my organization. The issue that I had identified was the methods that the Bahrain government adopted towards addressing, designing, advocating and implementing public policy initiatives. I was seeking ways that my organization, the Bahrain Economic Development Board (BEDB), could be an effective part of the government process. The Bahrain Economic Development Board became an advisory body (exclusive to the government), to support policy advocacy and policy implementation. This came after a major restructuring of the government.

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3 mins read

The Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN)

Guest blog written by Abiodun Samson Oladipo, Adeola Busola Olayinka, Camilla Esther Araoye, Ibikunle Peter Olalekan, Emmanuel Oluwatosin Oke, Titi Oyeola. This is a team of development practitioners who work for the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission in Nigeria. They successfully completed the 15-week Practice of PDIA online course that ended in May 2019. This is their story. Journeying through the Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA) course could be likened to an adapted 1804 challenge, we simply sailed out with great expectations of learning new concepts within the development space. We knew the course was going to be educative

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1 min read

Building State Capability in the Western Cape, Step by Step

Building State Capability (BSC) has been successfully applying its Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA) methodology in various governments across the world, including in growth enhancing policy initiatives directly related to the promotion of investment. BSC has trained several government officials from the Republic of South Africa in their PDIA online course. Two teams from the Department of Small Business Development (DSBD), one team from the Government Technical Advisory Center at the Treasury, and one team from the Office of the Premier of the Northern Cape successfully completed the course that ended in December 2018. In August 2019, BSC signed an MOU to work

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5 mins read

PDIA in Sri Lanka: Learning to Develop a Sustainable Tourism Project

Written by Tim McNaught and Anisha Poobalan Tourism is a strong contributor to Sri Lankan economic growth. The bulk of development in this sector has been in the south and west of the island. The northern and eastern regions, the areas most affected by the civil war and most in need of an economic boost, have experienced slower development. In an effort to promote tourism in the east, the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) put together a team to work on the Kuchchaveli project. The K-team was part of the Sri Lanka PDIA project from September 2016 – September

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9 mins read

Can States Promote Game Changing Growth?

written by Matt Andrews This post relates to the working paper, ‘Who Wins in the World Economy and English Football?’ The Question: ‘Can We Get Game Changing Growth?’ Governments are interested in addressing many problems. In our experience at Building State Capability (BSC), the number one problem always centers on the word ‘growth’. However, the problem is seldom as simple as ‘we are not growing’. Indeed, the vast majority of countries in the world have grown in the last generation, but policymakers we work with typically want more—especially in countries that one might call low or lower middle income. These policymakers always

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1 min read

Using PDIA to Decode Growth in Honduras

From left to right: Jose Arocha, Matt Andrews, Marco Midence and Jorge Jimenez. Over the past 10 weeks, Matt Andrews has been working with a team of three mid-career students from Latin America on a project applying the problem analysis in PDIA to the challenge of growth in Honduras. We had shared their fishbone diagram in a previous post. The team used growth diagnostics, product space analysis, and PDIA to find practical entry points for moving forward. We are proud of them and wish them the best on their PDIA adventure! Watch the video of their presentation. You can also follow along with

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5 mins read

PDIA in Sri Lanka: Learning to Engage New Investors for Economic Diversification – Let’s Go Fishing!

written by Anisha Poobalan Meet the Investment Promotions team, a group of Sri Lankan government officials from various departments, experts in differing fields, and all novices at the daunting task ahead of them – attracting foreign investors to Sri Lanka. I had the privilege of working alongside the I-team as a coach and colleague for a year. This post is an introduction to the ‘I team’, the challenges faced, victories celebrated, and the learning and experience gained for all involved, coaches and team members alike.

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7 mins read

Learning to improve Sri Lanka’s business and investment climate using PDIA

written by Peter Harrington This past week, the Building State Capability (BSC) program published two new papers about our work doing PDIA-in-practice in Sri Lanka. The first paper is about working to improve Sri Lanka’s business and investment climate, and is the subject of this blog post. The second is about working to promote foreign direct investment in Sri Lanka, and will be covered in a separate post . 

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4 mins read

How did China Create “Directed Improvisation”?

written by Lant Pritchett Yuen-Yuen Ang, a Professor of Political Science at University of Michigan came to speak at Harvard the other day and I was lucky enough to hear her presentation.  Her most recent book is How China Escaped the Poverty Trap, which is an original and insightful take on what is perhaps the biggest development puzzle of my lifetime:  how did China escape from long-term stagnation and political chaos into the fastest and longest and most poverty reducing burst of economic growth in the history of humankind? Her framing of the fundamental problem is the conventional wisdom is

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