May 21 2009

Kaleidoscopic Structures

by at 4:59 pm under Uncategorized

What is my intellectual network like?
Well, it looks more like a kaleidoscope than an easily sketched-out graph.  My strongest intellectual ties are certainly my professors, my classmates, and the authors I read.  The thing is that my classes and reading assignments not only extremely diverse to begin with, but are constantly changing by the weeks and semesters.  So while one connection lights up with intensity for one class session, it dwindles to a thread by the next class.  That’s sort of what grad school is all about though – collecting a million of these loose connections through all of the reading writing we do.  On top of CCT, I’ve got my work connections (which are more professional and practical) and my friends & family (which are entirely practical).  When I talk to my coworkers or friends & family about my school, I’m usually humbled when I try to make connections between my studies and real life.  It usually takes a bit more explaining than a business or law school student would need.

My family, friends, and coworkers acted like anchors with a sort of leash attached to me. From there I could go exploring new and radical theories, ideas, and frameworks that I might or might not be able to apply to my life practically.  The experience rewards me in the form of a liberal mind and greatly increased analytical and expression skills.  But I always come back to the common set of professional values of my coworkers and real, down-to-earth values of my friends and family.

And how does this provide insight in the development of the Washington Consensus?
This question gets to the heart of CCT as an academic program.  Like we discussed in class, those involved in the Washington Consensus had a very tight-knit group that, for decades, rewarded conformity and scorned diversity (unless of course it was the kind of diversity that looked like dollar signs). So for them, sailing away to explore new ideas and concepts wasn’t worthwhile if they were making good money just keeping with the status quo.  No one was creative or influential enough to successfully pull their closely-connected nodes in another direction.

What new development strategies could change this? And how can they be encouraged?

Expand the network!
The more people involved, the more influence can be exerted on a small world like the Washington Consensus.  Local stakeholders know their communities best.

Use what’s already there! It’s harder to start from scratch, than to just tweak the current incentive system. Let them keep playing the game and making money, just level the playing field a skosh.

Sunlight is the best disinfectant! What better for a kaleidoscope than sunlight? Bad PR can be more harmful to profits than a touchy-feely development project.

Spotlights are even better!
Give great PR and buzz to a few firms and projects doing their jobs well.  Remember when Collier got the UN to focus on the “bottom billion”? Remember when it became cool to be “green”?  Leaders need to create the same buzz around fair and successful development projects.

How in the world do these strategies tie into my own intellectual network?
Great question.  Maybe somehow this idea (from me as a node) will cause a tiny oscillation in the small world of CCT and somehow loose connections between a faculty member and Kevin Bacon then Kevin Bacon and Robert Zoellick will miraculously change the direction of international development practices.  Okay okay, so maybe the Kevin Bacon part was a little far fetched….

One response so far | Categories: Uncategorized

One Response to “Kaleidoscopic Structures”

  1. D. Linda Garcia on 25 May 2009 at 6:39 pm

    I loved your blog. I bet there is more connections between your real life happenings and the theoretical literature we are reading than you think. As well, I bet there are links between the materials in different class. Of course, that is the CCT challenge. LInda

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