Ideas for Development

Published on 1 January 2005

With much of our world dominated by increasing extremes of power, inequality and injustice, and with a litany of development problems that includes conflict and insecurity, debt, corporate irresponsibility, unfair trade and climate change, it is tempting to be a pessimist. In Ideas for Development, Robert Chambers, one of the critical optimists of international development, points to the scope that all development actors have to find good things to do. He argues that practical potentials can be found in ideas and aspects of development that have previously been overlooked, undervalued or misunderstood. Each chapter presents and reviews one of his earlier writings, examines subsequent and contemporary experience, and then derives a wealth of conclusions and implications for the future.

The many ideas and opportunities include: narrowing the gaps between words and actions; reducing demands on administrative capacity; using minimum rules, non-negotiables and downward accountability to transform power relations; finding new potentials for participation; improving scaling up; critical reflection and experiential learning; complementing rights-based with obligations-based approaches; pro-poor realism; and responsible well-being.

Ideas for Development is for all who are concerned with development, regardless of profession, discipline or organization. Especially it is for policy-makers, practitioners, managers, consultants, researchers, teachers, trainers and students, and those who work in aid agencies, governments, universities and colleges, NGOs and the private sector. Readers are invited to use and improve on the ideas in the book, and to take forward the conclusions that more can be done than many development actors realize, and that in the end it is action that counts.


Image of Robert Chambers

Robert Chambers

Research Associate

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Chambers, R,
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