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Harvard Kennedy School

A Cutting Edge of Development Thinking

Exec Ed: A Cutting Edge of Development Thinking
Feb 10—14, 2020
5 days
Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
USD 9100
USD 1820 per day

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Failed states like Somalia. Stagnant middle-income Latin American countries. Emerging African economies.

These (and many other parts of the world) are stark examples of a single truth: The world of development practice has become increasingly complex as practitioners are forced to explain extreme differences in growth patterns and possibilities.

At the same time, growth itself has become an inadequate goal to many—acceptable only if it is both sustainable and inclusive. Development paradigms are constantly shifting. And while these models try to make sense of this evolving landscape, most never seem to generate solutions for the pressing challenges of today.

An Executive Program in Development Thinking

Developed by Harvard Kennedy School along with the Center for International Development at Harvard University, A Cutting Edge of Development Thinking is the premier executive program for senior development officials who seek continuous learning in this ever-changing environment. Led by renowned Harvard faculty and leading experts in the field, this program examines the latest development thinking and research and trains you how to use these findings to inform strategic and tactical decisions. Whether a refresher in the latest development thinking, or a rigorous training for new senior officials, this executive program offers you the opportunity to lead teams based on the latest findings, tools and policy applications.

A Cutting Edge in Development Thinking will provide:

  • Diagnostic frameworks to analyze latest thinking on constraints to the growth process
  • Pioneering research on project management and implementation to build organizational capacity to achieve project outcomes
  • Investment tools to guide economic strategies and the identification of new economic sectors for diversification and inclusion
  • An interactive learning environment for you to meet, network and debate pressing development issues with renowned Harvard faculty and other leaders engaged in similar work
  • A lasting network of peers with similar backgrounds and experience
  • Evidence-based strategies for leveraging these research findings to make strategic and tactical decisions


A Cutting Edge of Development Thinking presents senior development officials with the latest development thinking and research findings, with a focus on how this information can inform strategic and tactical decisions, from project design to implementation.

This intensive and interactive one-week program is led by Professor Ricardo Hausmann and Professor Lant Pritchett, two of the world’s leading experts in development practice. Class lectures, case study discussions and experiential learning will create a powerful learning environment.

The curriculum for this program focuses on four core themes, which are interwoven throughout the week and include:

Economic Complexity and Structural Transformation — Sustained economic growth is the single most important determinant of persistent increases in living standards and reductions in poverty. In practice, growth is often stagnant, volatile and uneven, where diverging outcomes and middle-income traps have placed renewed focus on the process of structural transformation—how countries and cities move into new opportunities to make productivity gains and increase incomes. This process of “self-discovery” is often delayed by rigidities both in the private and public sectors so that the evolutionary process of learning and discovery can freeze up. The evolution of this learning by doing is fundamentally a process of increasing economic complexity, where increasing the diversity and complexity of production are at the core of economic development. During these sessions, you will be introduced to the ‘Atlas of Economic Complexity,’ (a set of tools to rethink how economic growth happens) and explore its application to your country and organization.

Growth Diagnostics — From the Washington Consensus to the current fad of promoting “best practices,” one of the clearest lessons of development is that policies that find success in one place may have weak, even negative effects elsewhere. Platitudes like “one size doesn’t fit all” offer little guidance to identify which “size” does fit which country. Growth Diagnostics have helped transform how the development community identifies which of the many distortions and barriers in the economy to fix first, by identifying the binding constraint to growth. These sessions will explore how to diagnose an individual country’s growth constraints and show how to apply the diagnosis to generate appropriately customized economic strategies.

*Inclusive Growth *— Whether due to Thomas Piketty or the troubling rise in national income inequality globally, many people today do not find economic growth to be morally palatable, unless it is broad-based and inclusive. These sessions present new research that finds both inequality and slow growth often result from a particular form of exclusion. Modern production requires the combination of individuals with diverse specialized knowledge (e.g. engineers, assembly workers and computer scientists) working across tightly coordinated networks of networks (e.g. production, logistics, marketing, sales, accounting, etc.). Acquiring new capabilities (or technology) often involves overcoming large initial fixed costs, which requires the creation of effective policy priorities. These sessions will discuss how public-private coordination can target the creation of new complex firms along with the targeted inclusion of more citizens into high-productivity employment. You'll explore how inclusion, when rightly understood, has significant implications for key policy areas from infrastructure policy and urban and housing policy to education policy, as a means to rethink how growth can enhance inclusion.

Getting Things Done: Implementing Development Projects — Too often, development projects fail. In many contexts, this failure is not driven by poor design but from a fundamental lack of state capability. Many reform initiatives do not achieve sustained improvements in performance because organizations pretend to reform by changing what policies and organizational structures look like rather than what they actually do. New approaches are needed to diagnose and build the capacity of public sector teams to achieve development outcomes. These sessions present the latest findings on a new way forward to address the difficult issues of policy implementation that can build public sector capability in challenging development contexts.

Who should attend

A Cutting Edge of Development Thinking is specifically designed for senior leaders working in development organizations, but is open to professionals in related fields. Interested applicants should have some background in economics as well as significant experience in development.

Recommended applicants include:

  • Senior officials at international institutions, including country directors, chief economists, team leaders and lead economists
  • Corporate executives, including consultants and senior investment analysts interested in new strategy tools for market analysis and investment
  • Senior government officials leading economic strategy thinking, investment agencies and regional/city development institutions

The program is best suited for development professionals with the following interests and goals: promoting economic growth; incorporating inclusion into economic strategies; strengthening competitiveness; shaping trade and industrial policy; creating better growth diagnostics; improving educational outcomes in labor markets; and identifying high potential growth sectors for investment.


Ricardo Hausmann is Director of Harvard's Center for International Development and Professor of the Practice of Economic Development at the Kennedy School of Government. He also teaches a capstone course on the MPAID program. Previously, he served as the first Chief Economist of the Inter-America...
Matt Andrews is Senior Lecturer in Public Policy. His research focuses on public sector reform, particularly budgeting and financial management reform, and participatory governance in developing and transitional governments. Recent articles focus on forging a theoretical understanding of the nont...

Next dates

Feb 10—14, 2020
5 days
Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
USD 9100
USD 1820 per day

How it works

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