L e v e l - 7

Tools For A New Political Economy

Linking Micro & Macro Development Programs

While it is fairly easy (and common) for positive results of development aid to be measured at the community or organizational level (micro), it is much less common (and much more difficult) to measure the positive impact in terms of GDP, overall wealth production and distribution (per capita income, etc.), or fundamental economic or other improvements to the broader target culture (macro level).  The argument generally goes something like this: if there aren't adequate trade, fiscal, monetary and banking stability (and lack of corruption) already in place, then developmental aid is just "pouring more water into a broken cup."  Right now it seems as though there is contradictory data about the best approach to development aid - depending on what metrics and analysis methodologies are used - and ongoing doubt about efficacy of existing approaches.  Some data analysis shows a consistent positive correlation between aid and growth over an extended period of time, and other approaches to the same data are less confident of any correlation.  However, at the micro and meso levels there is a sound consensus about how to measure positive outcomes.  Suffice it to say that, although this seems to still be an unresolved question in some circles, the studies that utilize the most variables over the longest periods generally confirm that there may not be a micro-macro paradox at all. 

Here's my take on this… Suppose you have to aid programs.  One targets providing cell phones to rural entrepreneurs in a specific region (micro), and the other targets developing wireless infrastructure across an entire country (macro).  The benefits of the micro program are easy to measure, right?  The entrepreneurs either flourish because they now have cell phones, or they don't, and this will become evident in a relatively short time.  But how do we measure the constructive benefits of the macro program?  It may be several years - perhaps decades - before the national wireless network is fully utilized.  Also, there is more opportunity for corruption, cutting corners, lack of performance accountability and other interference for the macro program, so the larger investment may seem riskier and less sound.  But what if we then fold the micro program into the macro program, and show that (obviously) the successful micro program won't work in certain areas of the country unless the macro program is funded as well?  I think this is the sort of metaphorical linkage that could help doubters understand why there may sometimes
appear to be a micro-macro paradox, when actually there isn't.  It also may be the key to driving larger investments, using the pilot principle, that deliberately link micro and macro development projects as they facilitate targeted Level 7 outcomes.

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