Why and When Top-Down Management of Foreign Aid Doesn't Work
Foreign aid organizations collectively spend hundreds of billions of dollars annually, with mixed results. Part of the problem in these endeavors lies in their execution. In Navigation by Judgment, Dan Honig argues that high-quality implementation of foreign aid programs often requires contextual information that cannot be seen by those in distant headquarters. Drawing on a novel database of over 14,000 discrete development projects across nine aid agencies
and eight paired case studies of development projects, Honig shows that aid agencies will often benefit from giving field agents the authority to use their own judgments to guide aid delivery. This "navigation
by judgment" is particularly valuable when environments are unpredictable and when accomplishing an aid program's goals is hard to accurately measure. Highlighting a crucial obstacle for effective global aid, Navigation by Judgment shows that the management of aid projects matters for aid effectiveness.