Power mapping

Development Policy17 May 2009Frans Bieckmann

In my first posting last week I said I would explain the three central lines I want to explore in this blog. First one is the dilemmas an editorial team walks into when trying to set up and build a new magazine/website as we do with The Broker. The second line has more to do with the content. Globalisation and development is an enormously broad topic, and we have divided it up into four areas: governance (which includes good/bad governance, global governance, geopolitics, but also development policies and concepts, civil society, and all kinds of political issues); economics; security (fragile states, conflicts, geopolitics); and Science & Technology (which, for the sake of ‘clarity’, also embraces climate change and other environmental issues, agriculture, ICT and internet). Of course somewhat arbitrary, and certainly overlapping, because apart from seeking in every issue a balance between the four clusters, we also try to look at a specific subject from a multidisciplinary angle. To find good items for The Broker I and the rest of the team are trying to follow policy debates, academic debates, not only by reading journals and magazines and online discussions and mailing lists, but also by listening very well in the corridors: what is new in academia, what are current dilemmas for policy makers at all levels, what is happening in the countries concerned or at a more global level?In this process, usually slowly, an item is growing. Or, better said, the angle we would like to choose for an article about it. For example, since its ‘outbreak’, we want to cover the financial crisis, but couldn’t find a good angle (and, like very often, a good person to write about it). In the coming June issue of The Broker we do have a piece on it, by Romesh Vaitilingam, who summarized the debate that is going on on the internet between economists.

I want to use this blog to try out some ideas, without them having already fullgrown into a real article. One idea is about ‘power mapping’, or country analyses. I would like to have an article that gives an overview of different categories and methods of analyzing the situation in a particular country or region. Ministries, big NGOs, and secret services, they all have their methods to analyze what is going on in a country they work with. Apart from comparing such methods, or looking for best practices, I am wondering whether there is any method that includes also international and global trends, as well as local and national.