Trust the development experts...all 7 billion of them.
This is the title of an article in the Financial Times published on 29 May 2008 by William Easterly.
The article is a criticism of the report of the World Bank Growth Commission
. This represents the work of a huge number of people giving their views on what countries need to do in order to develop. I listened to a podcast covering a session at the Council for Foreign Relations
at which about 5 members of the Commission described their results and then answered questions. Easterly's criticism of the content seems to me to be well warranted. Their conclusions range from "Infrastructure is very important for development" to the less than helpful "growth happens in a variety of situations".
Easterly's argument is that success is unpredictable. What you need to do is let as many individuals as possible try as many things as possible and then you will find out what is successful in a particular environment. There is no general principle (except for the general principle that there is no general principle). Unfortunately, this way of looking at the world does not give a big role to experts and so the experts aren't likely to give it much weight. They don't.
What I find interesting about Easterly's argument is that it is a very different perspective from ours (the Constellation's) but that his conclusion is exactly the same. We say that local people know their situation best so work to ensure that they take action that is suitable in their own circumstance. Easterly is saying is that there are no effective general principles for development so let people experiment and they will find the most appropriate solution for their circumstances.
A very different approach; same answer.