My research aims to understand how prosperity is created in poor countries. My first “chapter” in this larger quest has focused on how rich-country actors have managed to be a force for change in poor-country economies. I have investigated the various attempts of governments and non-profits to reduce poverty and effect change in the developing world. Some of my findings and views are summarized in "The Political Economy of Bilateral Foreign Aid," found below; on the whole, I find that rich-country efforts to alleviate poverty in the developing world are often self-serving, can deeply affect the economy but not necessarily generate top-line growth, and initiate a number of distortions to the domestic political economy—not all of them good.
My second “chapter,” which will focus on the role of domestic policymakers and local business in generating private sector development in poor countries, is only beginning. I kicked this stage off in 2009 when I took a 2-year leave from HBS to advise the Liberian government. I have developed the material for this chapter in the field and in the classroom, and am presently working on a book on developing and investing in frontier markets as well as a series of papers on the political economy of the business environment in developing countries.
Keywords: Foreign aid;
private sector development;