Two fallacies constrain learning across countries. “If it worked there, it will work here.” “This place is unique—we can’t learn from others.” To go beyond this polarity, Bob has developed convenings as a way to stimulate learning and problem solving. From outside come data, models, and case studies of success. From inside come local knowledge and problem solving. The result: solutions and collaborations that would not have happened otherwise.
Bob emphasizes these points with his international partners and in his CGU courses, including "Policy Design and Implementation."
The crucial issues facing regions, countries, and the world cannot be solved by governments acting alone or by privatization. Instead, government, business, and civil society must work together to create new strategies, forge new methods of implementation, and evaluate together what works where.
Fortunately, success stories provide inspiration. And economic principles help: who is best at what, and how can information and incentives be aligned across different kinds of institutions?
Bob brings three pieces of news to practitioners fighting corruption. It’s not hopeless, even when corruption is pervasive. Corruption is not just about ethics, it’s about equilibriums of incentives and information that need to be disrupted—and can be. Collaboration across the public-private divide is crucial.
Some of Bob’s phrases have become commonplace. Corruption is the misuse of public office for private gain. Fry big fish. Corruption equals monopoly plus discretion minus accountability.
His books were the basis of a two-volume training manual used in cities around the world: Fred Fisher, Ana Vasilache, and Nicole Rata, Restore the Heath of Your Organization: A Practical Guide to Curing and Preventing Corruption in Local Governments and Communities, Volume 1 (UN-HABITAT and Partners Foundation for Local Development, 2006) https://www.google.com/books/edition/Restore_the_Health_of_Your_Organization/tLTTcYiUyb0C?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=Fisher+restore+the+health+of+your+organization&pg=PA14&printsec=frontcover
Bob’s work was used in China after President Xi took power to guide the anti-corruption strategy (http://roll.sohu.com/20130324/n370042755.shtml; https://www.theglobalist.com/chinas-battle-against-corruption-gets-serious/). However, his personal involvement in China, in workshops hosted by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, conveyed the message of less repression and more learning from successes within China (https://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/2051133/china-should-champion-its-anti-corruption-success-stories).
The Culture and Development Manifesto, Oxford University Press, forthcoming January 2021. With inspiring examples from around the world, Bob shows how to take account of cultural diversity in economic and political development. Here is the concluding chapter, used with the permission of Oxford U.P. “Rethinking Culture and Development”.
Details below, under Books, Articles, Talks.
Climate and geography have had deep influences on cultures and genes, which in turn have legacy effects on governance and economic growth today. Exploring these deep roots does not lead to fatalism. Instead, it helps us to tailor policies to take advantage of what we do best.
How you should place yourself in our tragic and imperfect world? Experiment with your life. “Deciding Whom to Become.”
The hero's path: how to find your passion, develop your insight and expertise, and then share and serve. “Hermits, Addicts, and Heroes.”
How can “outside experts” share and serve? Think soil science, not social science. Be bold and humble. “Rethinking Culture and Development”.
Be thankful. “Gratitude.”
Oh yes: celebrate romance and intimacy. “On Romance and Intimacy.”