Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

Publications

 

An 18-wheeler on a highway
March 26, 2019

The Machines Are Not So Easy to Ride: Another Take on Automation

Contrary to popular imagination, automation in the workplace is not some modern-day development composed chiefly of hardware, robotics, and human-cognition level embedded algorithms. Instead, it is an old phenomenon consisting primarily of business productivity software deployment in the forms of enterprise resource planning, customer resource management, and human capital management solutions. And however far back one goes, process control and risk management have always competed with increased flexibility for priority in the business case for these systems.

Bright Simons
Close-up of hands using a phone to call a ride-sharing app
March 21, 2019

Why “Leapfrogging” in Frontier Markets Isn’t Working

There are two big questions about modern innovation: Why does it tend to confine itself to only a narrow “vanguard” of the economy in every part of the world? And why does it not provide as big a boost to productivity as expected, especially since the dotcom bust?

Bright Simons
map of Krishna
November 7, 2018

Digital Governance: Is Krishna a Glimpse of the Future?

Earlier this year we undertook a field study of Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh (AP), together with collaborators from Microsave, to understand the experience and perceptions around digital governance reforms. Our three surveys—of households, ration shop owners, and bank correspondents—find widespread support for digital governance reforms, including the use of Aadhaar authentication to receive food rations through the public distribution system (PDS) and social pensions through the panchayat, as well as for digital land records. However, we also find some areas for improvement. 

Aadhaar survey respondents give a show of hands when discussing issues with receiving rations
December 12, 2017

What a New Survey of Aadhaar Users Can Tell Us About Digital Reforms: Initial Insights from Rajasthan

India’s Aadhaar biometric identification scheme has registered over 1.1 billion people, including almost all adults in the country and over 15 percent of the global population. Of course, initiatives of this scale cannot escape controversy. What the debate has so far lacked, however, is data. We set out to help fill that gap with a survey focused on a digital governance initiative in the state of Rajasthan.

Stock photo of a stethoscope, a computer keyboard, and charts
November 8, 2017

Six Reasons Why the Global Fund Should Adopt Health Technology Assessment

With aid budgets shrinking and even low-income countries increasingly faced with cofinancing requirements, this is the right time for global health funders such as the Global Fund and their donors to formally introduce Health Technology Assessment (HTA), both at the central operations level and at the national or regional level in recipient countries. In this CGD Note, we explain why introducing HTA is a good idea. Specifically, we outline six benefits that the application of HTA could bring to the Global Fund, the countries it supports, and the broader global health community.

Robots on a factory assembly line
September 13, 2017

Automation, AI, and the Emerging Economies

For the world’s middle-income countries, the changes unleashed by automation, digital technologies, and the advent of increasingly more capable AI pose major challenges. They threaten to upend the few tried and tested development strategies.

January 19, 2017

Expanding Women’s Role in Developing Technology: Increasing Productivity, Improving Lives

Just as the evidence suggests that a more gender-inclusive political system may lead to better policies for women and girls and integrating women into corporate boards may mean reaching new consumers, there is a case to be made for increasing women’s presence in developing technology and innovation. Incorporating more women into technology sectors is likely to 1) increase productivity, 2) offers women a source of high-quality jobs, and 3) may have knock-on benefits for female consumers of technology, whose needs are more likely to be taken into account.

June 7, 2016

Donors Funding Technology: 10 Recommendations

Funding the global public good of technology is a useful way for donors to leverage the impact of their aid. Different types of technologies appear to be important to development progress, and to spread, in different ways. ‘Lab coat technologies’ (inventions) spread easily and improve quality of life, ‘process technologies’ (institutions) spread with difficulty and are important to economic growth. For all donor interventions, however, it appears that context matters—the same technology or investment has varied impact in different environments. Donors should take the importance of context on board when designing their technology interventions.