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Managing development agencies: from reform to renewal

Time (GMT +01) 15:00 16:30

Contributing Chair

Craig Valters @craigvalters - Research Fellow, Overseas Development Institute


Vel Gnanendran @VelavanG - Director of Finance and Delivery, Department for International Development

Dan Honig @rambletastic - Assistant Professor, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (via videolink)

Pablo Yanguas @PabloYanguas - Research Fellow, Effective States and Inclusive Development Research Centre and Global Development Institute, University of Manchester  

Nilima Gulrajani @NilimaGulrajani - Senior Research Fellow, Development Strategy and Finance, Overseas Development Institute


Ensuring development agencies remain relevant and robust in a changing era of development cooperation is vital work. Yet, discussions are often framed in terms of what agencies do rather than how they do it. From restructuring agencies, to empowering staff with greater autonomy, to reshaping results-based management and improving accountability, a range of solutions are increasingly being offered.

This event brings together researchers making some of these suggestions with officials charged with their implementation. The session features a live debate on the feasibility and likelihood these recommendations could have for improving donor performance and development impact. 

Specifically, panelists address:

  • How should development agencies be governed and structured?   
  • What are the pros and cons of results-based management? Are there good alternatives to assessing value-for-money?
  • How can ‘empowering staff’ be made tangible and still comply with the need to maintain formal accountability to citizens, managers and politicians?

This participatory event encourages discussion across the panel and with the audience.


Craig Valters is a Research Fellow, Overseas Development Institute. His main research interests are in the politics, management and communication of aid, and he leads a collaborative project with the UK’s Department for International Development on adaptive management. Craig also has a specific interest in security and justice sector reform, primarily focused in South and South-East Asia.

Vel Gnanendran, Director of Finance and Delivery, Department for International Development, has worked for the British Government for nearly 20 years on international development and policy. He is currently Director of Finance and Delivery for the Department for International Development (DFID).

Dan Honig is an Assistant Professor of International Development at Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). His research focuses on management and organizational structure in the developing world public sector and institutions that deliver foreign assistance.

Pablo Yanguas is a Research Fellow at the Effective States and Inclusive Development Research Centre and Global Development Institute, University of Manchester, as well as an international development consultant. He received his PhD in Government from Cornell University after studying History and Archaeology at the University of Seville.

Nilima Gulrajani is a Senior Research Fellow in the Development Strategy and Finance team, applying organisational and management theory to study trends and practices in the field of international development cooperation. She leads a programme of research centred on building donor capacity and investigating comparative trends and policy innovations in development management.

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