Lacking access to mortgage credit for family housing in Argentina

Guest blog by Pablo Curat

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Implementing Public Policy Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. Participants successfully completed this 6-month online learning course in December 2020. These are their learning journey stories.

  1. What were your expectations of IPP Online when you signed up?

I am an economist and for 30 years I have worked in the regulation and supervision of financial, microfinance and fintech entities and in design and implementation of development policies related to access to financing for small and micro-enterprises, agricultural producers, etc. Either as part of the public sector (I was Director of the Central Bank in Argentina) or collaborating as a private consultant.
I had always done it my way, without a specific methodology, contributing my professional capacity and trying to adapt to the different contexts and political and economic priorities and interacting proactively with actors from the public and private sectors.
The need for more tools attracted me from the first moment to enroll in the IPP course 1) By the name itself, it was certainly not a theoretical but a practical course, focused on implementation, excellent news…. 2) However, I had a great uncertainty: the cultural, social, economic and political contexts in the countries are so varied. How can you offer an IPP course that is useful to practitioners around the world? Is it the same to implement public policy in the USA as Argentina or Ethiopia? So I thought there were only two alternatives: the IPP-HKS course was a success or it would be one more academic course, perhaps full of generalities.
My expectations were to incorporate knowledge, methodologies and experiences that would allow me to be more effective and efficient in my work as a policymaker or as an external consultant.

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Public space usage in Bratislava

Guest blog by Lenka Galetova

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Implementing Public Policy Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. Participants successfully completed this 6-month online learning course in December 2020. These are their learning journey stories.

My journey in the Implementing Public Policy course has been full of changes, surprises and overcoming expectations. In the beginning, there was a nice announcement of by my chief – the mayor of the city of Bratislava, that he selected me as the member of his team to take part in this exciting online course led by Harvard teachers. I felt his high expectations and I imagined that by the end of the course there will be some great innovative fancy policy product which I will create with the help of the course. I was focused on the output of it.

Throughout the course I found that it is the process and a way of thinking which I am going to learn and get familiar with. And it was even better than I had imagined. Some of the learned elements could seem obvious to you – that you should think of your feelings, points of view and the feelings and points of view of your team members and colleagues. But frankly – how often do we really take into account all these “obvious” important elements? And how often we do neglect the stance of our colleagues in order to assure that the delivery of the solution will be swift, quick and straightforward. Or even more common fault – how often do we tend to start the project and deal with the policy challenge with the ready solutions for the problem? Have you ever considered that even your perception of the problem itself could be not the best one or could be even incorrect?

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Digging Deep into the Policy Challenge Paves the way to Overcome

Guest blog by Teshome Mengesha Marra

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Implementing Public Policy Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. Participants successfully completed this 6-month online learning course in December 2020. These are their learning journey stories.

When I first receive my acceptance letter to this worldwide executive education program, I had no detail information on its modality and contents. I thought that the program would be provided through lecture notes, discussions, assignments, and maybe a final exam because in many of my past educational pathways these kinds of formats were very common. Even in some of my short term education and training at various institutions, I have experienced more theoretical discussion and presentation rather a look at certain specific areas of practical aspects.

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A Journey of Inward Looking and Quick Wins in South Africa

Guest blog by Busikazi Futshane

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Implementing Public Policy Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. Participants successfully completed this 6-month online learning course in December 2020. These are their learning journey stories.

My expectations of IPP

I enrolled in Implementing Public Policy programme because I since learned that I am dealing with a complex policy challenge. My interest was to understand how to deal with uncertainty and unknown factors in policy implementation. I wanted new insights, tools to ease bottle necks, and ways to strengthen the plan and control approach in the implementation. The crucial role of engaging authorisers and involving interest groups came up strongly in the programme and this was of great assistance. The entire IPP programme went beyond my expectations and further strengthened my leadership skills.

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The Big Stuck in State Capability and Premature Load Bearing, Some New Evidence

written by Lant Pritchett

In the book Building State Capability one of the explanations of the very slow progress shown in acquiring effective and capability administration in developing countries was that the adoption of “best practice” from countries with different and higher capability administration actually made it more difficult to build capability.  The attempts to do too much, too soon, with too little through adopting formal laws and policies that required sophisticated and robust capabilities for implementation did not help, and in fact hurt.  While some people argued “stretch targets” would create pressures for progress, instead the gap between formal laws, regulations, policies and existing capability stretched the robustness of organizations to breaking, producing low level capability traps and a abetted a “big stuck.”

A recent working paper provides some new evidence of this “premature load bearing” using data from the Doing Business indicators and the Enterprise Surveys, both from the World Bank.  The Doing Business indicators provide each year for each country a single data point on how many days it would take a typical firm to get a permit for a construction warehouse (taken as a generic kind of construction permit) according to the existing formal laws.  This measures the de jure, formal, regulatory requirements for doing business.  In many of the same countries the World Bank also surveyed firms in the Enterprise Survey and, among the many questions they asked, they asked firms who had actually built a new structure how long it had taken them to receive their permit.  This is the de facto measure of how business is actually done.

Previous work, Hallward-Driemeier and Pritchett (2015) showed that (a) across countries there is very little correlation between the DB and ES days for a construction permit (or opening a business or clearing customs), (b) the DB average across countries for a construction permit is around 190 days whereas the ES reported times have a median of around 30 days, and (c) the variance across countries in the times they report is very large, much larger than the variability across countries in ES reported median times—the difference in times between the firms reporting fast times and slow times in the same country is larger than the difference between the fastest and slowest countries.

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