Budgeting, planning, and economic strategy in Mozambique

Guest blog by Bruce Byiers

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Leading Economic Growth Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. 61 Participants successfully completed this 10-week online course in December 2021. These are their learning journey stories.

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 never got anywhere.

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Economic growth strategies in North Macedonia

Guest blog by Jones Anthony

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Leading Economic Growth Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. 65 Participants successfully completed this 10-week online course in May 2021. These are their learning journey stories.

– Growth challenge: Slower economic growth compared to neighboring countries     

– Country/region/municipality: North Macedonia (NM)

  • What are some key ideas/learnings that you will take away from this course?

I gained a deep understanding of several key economic growth and public policy ideas from the course. The Product Space analysis is a game changer for my work on all future targeted industry strategies. Instead of focusing primarily on the industry concentrations and their growth rates (Location Quotients) for a country/region/city, I am now equipped to target those more complex industry sectors that will have the biggest impact on advancing economic growth and increasing the knowhow of the economy. I am also eagerly awaiting the City/Region Complexity Index in May, which I believe will be transformational for local economic development practitioners across the globe.

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Exploring economic diversification in Azerbaijan

Guest blog by Gasimli Vusal

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Leading Economic Growth Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. 65 Participants successfully completed this 10-week online course in May 2021. These are their learning journey stories.

“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’ “Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. After the peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan in November 2020, the latter immediately set to work on the decontamination, reconstruction, rehabilitation and reintegration of liberated Karabakh, which had suffered enormous destruction over the course of the occupation over the last 30 years. Reintegration of newly-released territories and 6 percent population growth perspective by 2030 create new opportunities and challenges from growth perspectives.

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Examining economic inequity in King County, Washington

Guest blog by Allison Ashton

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Leading Economic Growth Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. 65 Participants successfully completed this 10-week online course in May 2021. These are their learning journey stories.

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 crises are giving us once-in-a-century opportunities to build back better and avoid the mistakes we’ve made coming out of previous recessions, which have exacerbated inequities.

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Where know-how and action were missing

Guest blog written by Molebogeng Amanda (Tshoma) Mazibuko

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Leading Economic Growth Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. 65 Participants successfully completed this 10-week online course in May 2021. These are their learning journey stories.

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.  

During my journey on PDIA through the Leading Economic Growth with Harvard Kennedy School I identified multiple flaws which implied that my level of know how was a limitation to advance the project’s intention. PDIA made me question formerly held principles in understanding and driving change. I managed to identify key functional asymmetries and learnt to measure progress via functionality-legitimacy practical framework. 

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What if it’s not broken yet?

Guest blog by Carmel Quin

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Leading Economic Growth Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. 65 Participants successfully completed this 10-week online course in May 2021. These are their learning journey stories.

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 best support them? Further, how can we prompt meaningful and sustained action to address a problem before its impacts are felt?

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Low local supply in global value chains in Chihuahua, MX

Guest blog by Torres Luis Oliver

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Leading Economic Growth Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. 65 Participants successfully completed this 10-week online course in May 2021. These are their learning journey stories.

Being part of this course was not only an academic experience, it was also a professional experience of great impact for the development of my skills as a professional in territorial development.

In this sense, having spent ten weeks learning new methodologies and mechanisms to measure economic development and growth as well as the identification of problems in the territory, allowed me to develop capacities and skills to apply them in my work responsibility.

It was not only the knowledge that I was able to acquire through the conferences, papers and recommendations made by the teachers, but also the knowledge and experiences that other peers do in their cities and countries, this experience of collaboration with other students of the course. It has been fundamental to generate contacts around the world.

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A Hands-on Deconstruction of Youth Unemployment in Kenya

Guest blog by Moses Sitati

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Leading Economic Growth Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. 65 Participants successfully completed this 10-week online course in May 2021. These are their learning journey stories.

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 I had just been co-leading a multi-disciplinary team at USAID/Kenya and East Africa in developing a five-year strategy to address youth unemployment. We had set ourselves a purpose to increase economically productive opportunities for young women and young men in Kenya and to empower them to actively engage in these opportunities. I reasoned that the course could be useful in providing new ways to analyze this challenge, and potentially offer solutions for me to think about. I would soon to find out that application of the theory and ideas taught in the course was designed as the primary learning arena for the program.

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Promoting Equitable Investment and Job Generation in Fort Worth, Texas

Guest blog by Robert Sturns

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Leading Economic Growth Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. 65 Participants successfully completed this 10-week online course in May 2021. These are their learning journey stories.

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 you look at the fishbone exercises I completed over the course of the program.

As I studied the issue and thought through our challenges, I began to really see the binding constraints that are impacting our efforts. While marketing and promotion of the City is an easy first step that should be encouraged, it is increasingly difficult to convince new large-scale businesses to open in certain areas of the city. Business consolidations and web technology have eliminated many of the traditional neighborhood serving businesses and left low-income alternatives in their place. Because the high-skilled jobs are in other areas of the city that lack public transportation, these communities do not get the benefit of growing know how through a formal corporate environment and rely on individual operators in a less formal environment that impacts wages and know how. Low human capital is also a challenge for our underserved areas in that the high school graduation rate for minority (particularly African-American) students lags significantly behind their white counterparts.  This suggests that they will not be prepared for the incoming jobs of the future if we do not begin to take steps to address this problem.

Since marketing/promotion of the City has been an identified area of need that could be easily implemented, I was very interested in working on a CINDE like approach to our marketing challenges that would engage partners at the city, chamber(s) of commerce and the business community. By utilizing this model, the entities could focus on specific targets within an industry and spend time and effort on marketing to those businesses and building relationships. We have already begun having those conversations with the chamber of commerce, and have developed a perception survey that was sent out to over 100 site selectors to gauge their impressions of Fort Worth, and why we may not be seeing as many recruitment opportunities as we would like to see. Following the survey, both the city and chamber will begin to look at how we can develop a more comprehensive and proactive pitch campaign utilizing additional feedback from our local business community.

As I mentioned, identifying the true binding constraint on our growth was also a key part of the course that I focused on during the program. Fort Worth completed an economic development strategic plan three years ago that comprised over 200 recommendations or policy reforms to be undertaken by various organizations across the city. While we have made progress on many of the recommendations, that has not resulted in significant new business attraction/investment or new job creation. The recommendations and polices we have pursued do not seem to have identified the real binding constraint of why we are not attracting more development opportunities. In particular, one challenge that was highlighted in my fishbone diagram, is that we do not have the resources in place to accomplish some of the more primary tasks we need to complete as identified by the plan. In looking at how we could improve our efforts, we will need to drill down to what is our true binding constraint and focus our efforts there as additional resources are not likely in the near future. It will be imperative to pare back a lot of the recommendations going forward and focus on what is truly making an impact on our community.

A final insight from the course that was very illuminating was on the concept of the city’s identity and sense of “us”. Fort Worth, while being the 13th largest city in the U.S., describes itself as being a large city that maintains a small-town feel. We pride ourselves on our western heritage by embracing slogans like “The City of Cowboys & Culture” which is part of our identity and make up the sense of what makes us Fort Worthians. However, that sense of “us” does suggest a community that is not very diverse or progressive to those not from Texas, and can be a significant challenge when trying to attract new investment from other parts of the country. Younger residents of the city have a much different perception of the city and how it needs to promote itself. While they still have pride in the “maverick” spirit of the city, younger residents are more aligned and interested in the progressive neighborhoods, artists, creatives and entrepreneurs that make up the community. In addition, our minority residents often do not see themselves reflected in the perception of “us” that is promoted nationally and should have better representation. In considering enhanced marketing efforts and promoting the city in order to deal with the growth challenge, we will have to balance keeping some semblance of what makes the city what it is, while promoting the opportunities it can provide and what it could be in the future.

Given that my growth challenge is specifically about investment and equity, I was really intrigued by the efforts of bringing inclusion to the forefront of our growth strategies and would like to explore this in more depth in the future. In looking at models like the Brookings Metro Indicators or OCED, setting metrics on wage growth, poverty rates and job growth in underserved areas, seem to be efforts that should be pursued at the city, state and national level. The big question will be how to balance growth while also tackling inequity. As Dr. Hausmann so eloquently put it during our closing session, the problems we face may be clear, but the proposed solutions may not give a full answer to the problems due to our assumptions and beliefs about the nature of the world. We need to look outside of assigning blame and focus on addressing the overall problems of inequality. How can cities/regions/countries truly galvanize support across multiple entities and expand cooperation in order to focus on addressing the problem of inequality? This will likely be the defining issue of economic growth over the next few decades.

To learn more about Leading Economic Growth (LEG) watch the faculty video, and visit the course website.

Promoting agricultural sector products to diversify the economy in Mongolia

Guest blog by Batjargal Khandjav

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Leading Economic Growth Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. 65 Participants successfully completed this 10-week online course in May 2021. These are their learning journey stories.

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 the grader helped me to stay focused and better adapt ideas and principles taught during the course, in a concrete circumstance of my country.

Each of the modules of the LEG Program offered ideas and learnings that gave new and interesting perspectives and helped me to assess the main problems and obstacles for the economic development of Mongolia, look for the roots of these problems, analyze possible solutions to these barriers.

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