This post is written in a personal capacity and not an official summary of the conference, “A Future for Aid Data”. Names are mentioned but do not reflect the official views of the University of Birmingham or the individual’s institutional affiliations.
This week, being reading week at POLSIS I had the time to attend a non POLSIS but rather and IDD organised talk titled, “A Future for Aid Data”. Specifically organised by Dr. Michael Hubbard and Pranay Sinha, it looks at the rise of non Organisation for Economic Co-Operation-Donor Assistance Committee (OECD-DAC) donors such as Brazil, India and China and others and how they should and could be incorporated into the present aid transparency discourse. I know some stuff about the Paris Declaration, but this conference was much more focus on a itty-gritty term: the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) (pronounced by some as I-Ah-Ti.) And I thought “Dee-fid” was weird enough….
I knew some aid big shots would be there such as Owen Barder, but I didn’t expect that many big shots. The first main speaker was some one I knew, Stephen Klingebiel as I used his doctoral thesis on the UNDP in my Masters Dissertation. At my table, I would later find out that the former, Director of the OECD Development Cooperation Directorate, Richard Carey was one of the members. Fast forward to lunch time, I caught up with a certain Michael Tierney, who was a former manager in charge of a website I came across: AidData. Where have I heard that name before I wondered, as I chatted with him and two others over topic such as the Eurozone Crisis and each of our countries’ politics.
It was only later that night that I looked back at my key book, Delegation and Agency in International Organizations that I realised that he was Associate Professor Michael J. Tierney, one of the leading scholars of Principal-Agent (PA) theory. If you read some of my posts a while back (and if you know me personally), PA theory is the central concept (well along with constructivism) for my theoretical approach in my thesis. It was a God-send indeed, to actually meet a scholar in PA theory. So, the next day, I mentioned how I heard of him and took every opportunity I needed to not just talk about aid transparency, but also testing my ideas and views on the PA model with him during every single break. It’s amazing how he got involved with aid data stuff really; he explained at the start of his presentation that “in his other life, he’s a Professor of International Relations” and definitely not an academic on development data. Still, that’s exactly where I want to be: a Scholar of International Political Economy (IPE) and yet with International Development as one of my main interests.
This is a rather short entry–I’ll do a full summary of the whole conference by expanding it later. It was just amazing to meet a scholar of PA theory under the backdrop of an aid or Official Development Assistance (ODA) conference.