Ideas to Action: Case Studies of Influence and Impact of Five Initiatives at the Center for Global Development

When CGD was set up as a “think and do tank,” the aim was not just to produce papers or create “a sandbox for economists,” as one of our founders put it. Rather, our vision was to turn ideas into action by combining rigorous research and evidence with practical experience in economic development and global health. Part of that mandate means examining how we work, learning from success and disappointment, and finding ways to improve.

As CGD celebrates its 20th anniversary, we are looking back at our work and drawing lessons from those efforts. The case studies collected here detail five notable initiatives from CGD’s first two decades. On a broad level, they illustrate the complex ways in which policy change happens and is understood retrospectively, the variability of success, and the interdependency of a range of contextual factors in enabling (or hindering) progress.

This external assessment was led by Benjamin Soskis of the Urban Institute’s Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy. Each of the case studies was researched and authored by independent consultants to CGD.