Francisca M. Rojas, June 2012 

    The public disclosure of transit information by agencies is a successful case of open data adoption in the United States. Transit transparency offers insights into the elements that enable effective disclosure and delivery of digital information to the public in cases where there is a strong demand for that information, and where the disclosed information is available at the right place and time for users to act upon.

    David Dapice, May 2012 

    Electricity is a fundamental input to every modern economy. Electricity consumption per capita in Myanmar is among the lowest in Asia and had been growing very slowly since the 1980s. It gently grew from 45 kWh per capita in 1987 to 99 kWh in 2008, a 3.8 percent annual growth rate. However, since 2008, the production of electricity has jumped very quickly. This 50 percent jump in three years is about 15 percent per year, far higher than in the past. The CSO does not report any increase in installed capacity since 2009/10, so the existing system is being worked much more intensively. This creates problems, such as the risk of sudden outages from failures in generators. Indeed, there has been an increase in blackouts in the Yangon and Mandalay areas in the last year in spite of higher output; and even during the wet season. With increases in tourism, exports and overall economic activity, electricity demand will continue to soar. Even with 2011/12 output, estimated consumption in Myanmar is only about 160 kWh per capita, compared to 2009 consumption of over 250 kWh per capita in Bangladesh and nearly 600 in Indonesia. Vietnam had over 1000 kWh per capita in 2011.

    David Dapice, May 2012 

    There is an immense challenge facing the leadership in Myanmar. They have to negotiate a nation and to reform the basic assumptions and processes that have ruled for the past decades. They need to make the new system more representative, more inclusive, less favorable to a narrow group of businessmen and government or army officials, and more broadly successful. The new system has to give minority groups a reason to want to be part of the new nation. That means not only creating new sources of growth and wealth, but also making rules that ensure the benefits go to many more than the relatively narrow groups who have largely benefitted in the past. The technical adjustments needed in the exchange rate, the financial system, taxing and spending, infrastructure investments, and competition policy will all ultimately be judged on the ability of the policy package to create the conditions for national unity and progress. The government needs to have a vision of this goal and how the pieces fit together. Getting it to work in a shaky world economy with new and still evolving institutions is a huge challenge. But for those who have seen the past clearly for what it was, there can be no doubt that moving forward together is better than going back or staying put.

    Dwight H. Perkins, April 2012 

    Myanmar faces fundamental choices about its economic future when the sanctions are lifted, and many of these choices will be present even if some of the sanctions remain. There is no technical reason why Myanmar cannot achieve a GDP growth rate of 8 percent a year or more for several decades. If the country did achieve a growth rate of that magnitude, the standard of living of its people would double over the next decade and increase four-fold over the next two decades. Poverty would fall dramatically, first in the more developed regions and then nationwide. In the most recent two decades, in contrast, Myanmar's electric power consumption suggests that GDP growth per capita has at best been negligible and may even have been negative.

    Pincus, Jonathan, Vu Thanh Tu Anh, Pham Duy Nghia, Ben Wilkinson, and Nguyen Xuan Thanh. 2012. “Structural Reform for Growth, Equity, and National Sovereignty”. Read Full Paper Abstract

    Jonathan Pincus, Vu Thanh Tu Anh, Pham Duy Nghia, Ben Wilkinson, and Nguyen Xuan Thanh, January 2012

    This paper has been prepared for the third annual Vietnam Executive Leadership Program (VELP), to be held at Harvard Kennedy School from February 12 to 17, 2012. The goal of this paper is to provide participants in the VELP forum, including Vietnamese government officials, international scholars, and corporate executives, with an assessment of some of the key public policy challenges confronting Vietnam today. This paper is by no means comprehensive; by necessity, it has not been possible to undertake an exhaustive study of every policy area. In selecting which issues to address, the authors have been guided by the priorities of the Vietnamese government as they have been articulated in policy statements promulgated over the past year.

    Dapice, David O., Michael J. Montesano, Anthony J. Saich, and Thomas J. Vallely. 2012. “Appraising the Post-Sanctions Prospects for Myanmar's Economy: Choosing the Right Path”. Read Full Paper Abstract

    David O. Dapice, Michael J. Montesano, Anthony J. Saich, Thomas J. Vallely, January 2012

    This paper is the first iteration in an ongoing effort by the Ash Center and Proximity Designs to describe a growth strategy for Myanmar that takes account of political and economic realities – assuming that sanctions will soon be removed. Myanmar is a country facing a difficult political and economic transition. In spite of the implications of official statistics and recent surveys, it is a very poor country, long mired in conflict and cut off from much of the world. It has an immense struggle ahead, as it tries to create a more modern and capable state apparatus, a competitive private sector and economy, and an economic and political system that reflects popular sentiments. It is not just behind its neighbors; it is starting from a different place altogether.

    Joseph W. Pfeifer, January 2012

    Repairs to sanitation plows and salt-spreaders usually go unnoticed, but when a truck smashes through a wall and is dangling four stories above the ground, it draws intense media attention. On August 17, 2011, at 0928 hours, a 15.5-ton truck lost control inside the Department of Sanitation's Central Repair Facility in Maspeth, Queens, and plowed through an upper floor wall. When FDNY units arrived, the driver, Robert Legall, 56, was tightly grasping the steering wheel, as three-quarters of his truck hung precariously out a window at a 45-degree angle, some 40 feet above the street. The impact of the truck showered the sidewalk and road with bricks, shattering windshields and crushing roofs of parked cars.

    In January 2011 senior Indonesian officials were contemplating the results of a new travel survey that showed that the number of trips in the Jakarta metropolitan area was growing steadily while the share of trips made on public transportation was falling rapidly. Jakarta had a reputation as one of the world’s most congested cities, and the situation was getting worse because the population and average incomes in the metropolitan area were growing rapidly.

    David Dapice, January 2012

    The exchange rate has moved from about 1300 kyat per dollar in 2006-07 to 800 kyat to the dollar in January 2012 while the consumer price index has jumped by over two-thirds. World rice prices in dollars have been generally strong, with Vietnamese five percent broken export prices at $520/ton in December 2011, 78 percent above their 2006/07 average. Wholesale paddy prices in Myanmar have plunged 30 percent in real terms from 2007 to 2012 and 25 percent in just the last year. For a variety of reasons, the paddy price to farmers may have fallen even more. This results in less hiring of landless neighbors, migration out of the village (often to a foreign country), less use of inputs and reduced summer paddy planting. Sharp real price declines in pulses have also been reported, though the exchange rate is only one contributing factor to their low prices. Poor quality pulses due to untimely rains and reduced demand from India also play some role.

    Leonard, Herman B. ”Dutch”, and Arnold M. Howitt. 2012. “Working Together In Crises”. Read Full Paper Abstract

    Herman B. ”Dutch” Leonard and Arnold M. Howitt, January 2012

    Severe natural disasters, large-scale industrial accidents or epidemics often expose emergency response organisations and society to previously unseen threats, response demands that exceed available resources, or familiar emergencies in unprecedented combinations or complex layers. Two kinds of leaders are likely to come to the fore: professional emergency response chiefs and political leaders.

    Gómez-Ibáñez, José A., and Nguyễn Xuân Thành. 2012. “Yangon’s Development Challenges”. Read Full Paper Abstract

    José A. Gómez-Ibáñez and Nguyễn Xuân Thành, March 2012

    Yangon is an attractive and relatively livable city that is on the brink of dramatic change. If the government of Myanmar continues its recent program of economic and political reform, the economy of the country is likely to take off, and much of the growth will be concentrated in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city and commercial capital. This paper argues that Yangon is poorly prepared to cope with the pressures of growth because it has only begun to develop a comprehensive land use and development plan for the city that would guide the location of key activities including export-oriented industries and port terminals. In addition, the city lacks the financial resources to finance the infrastructure and other public services required to serve the existing population, let alone support a population that is larger and better off. Failure to address these challenges will not only make Yangon a less livable city but will also reduce the rate of economic growth for the entire country. Myanmar needs a dynamic and vibrant Yangon to thrive.

    Agents of Change: Strategy and Tactics for Social Innovation
    Cels, Sanderijn, Jorrit de Jong, and Frans Nauta. 2012. Agents of Change: Strategy and Tactics for Social Innovation. Brookings Institution Press. Visit Publisher's Site Abstract

    Sanderijn Cels, Jorrit De Jong, Frans Nauta, Brookings Institution Press, 2012

    Agents of Change describes imaginative, cross-boundary thinking and transformative change and explains exactly how innovators pull it off. While governments around the world struggle to maintain service levels amid fiscal crises, social innovators are improving social outcomes for citizens by changing the system from within. In Agents of Change, three cutting-edge thinkers and entrepreneurs present case studies of social innovation that have led to significant social change. Drawing on original empirical research in the United States, Canada, Japan, Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands, they examine how ordinary people accomplished extraordinary results.

    Chinese Village, Global Market: New Collectives and Rural Development

    Biliang Hu and Tony Saich, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012

    This book is a story of one village, Yantian, and its remarkable economic and social transformation. The village sits in the Pearl River Delta, the engine of China's emergence as the hub of global manufacturing and production. The village's success relied on the creation of new economic collectives, its ability to leverage networks, and its proximity to Hong Kong to transform forever the formerly sleepy rural area. The result of almost 20 years of field work by the authors, Chinese Village, Global Market shows how outcomes are shaped by a number of factors such as path dependence, social structures, economic resources and local entrepreneurship.

    Chinese Village, Global Market: New Collectives and Rural Development

    Biliang Hu and Tony Saich, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012 

    This book is a story of one village, Yantian, and its remarkable economic and social transformation. The village sits in the Pearl River Delta, the engine of China's emergence as the hub of global manufacturing and production. The village's success relied on the creation of new economic collectives, its ability to leverage networks, and its proximity to Hong Kong to transform forever the formerly sleepy rural area. The result of almost 20 years of field work by the authors, Chinese Village, Global Market shows how outcomes are shaped by a number of factors such as path dependence, social structures, economic resources and local entrepreneurship.

    Deliberative Systems: Deliberative Democracy at the Large Scale
    Parkinson, John, and Jane Mansbridge. 2012. Deliberative Systems: Deliberative Democracy at the Large Scale. Cambridge University Press. Visit Publisher's Site Abstract

    John Parkinson and Jane Mansbridge, Cambridge University Press, 2012 

    'Deliberative democracy' is often dismissed as a set of small-scale, academic experiments. This volume seeks to demonstrate how the deliberative ideal can work as a theory of democracy on a larger scale. It provides a new way of thinking about democratic engagement across the spectrum of political action, from towns and villages to nation states, and from local networks to transnational, even global, systems. Written by a team of the world's leading deliberative theorists, Deliberative Systems explains the principles of this new approach, which seeks ways of ensuring that a division of deliberative labor in a system nonetheless meets both deliberative and democratic norms.

    Tim Burke and Gigi Georges, December 2011

    As the U.S. grapples with fiscal crisis – facing spiraling deficits, dangerous levels of debt, and the worst economic recession in some 70 years – Americans understand that all levels of their government must take action. Calls are growing louder from across the political spectrum for the same spirit of cost-cutting and financial restraint within government that so many families have had to embrace. According to a Pew Research Center poll in early 2011, however, even while Americans increasingly recognize the need to halt increases in spending, many remain reluctant to embrace specific cuts. There is still not one area of domestic federal spending – whether education, veterans' benefits, health care or public safety – that more Americans, when pressed, want to decrease more than they want to increase.

    By David Dapice and Edward A. Cunningham, December 2011

    Ensuring affordable, stable, and accessible energy supply remains one of the most critical functions of government, particularly in the developing world. The creation and expansion of a national energy system presents governments with inherent risks that must be managed if an economy is to be supplied with the energy it requires to grow. Some risks are structural, and inherent to the sector itself. Energy systems are characterized by high levels of capital intensity (e.g. oil refining), long-cycle investments with extended pay-back periods (e.g. oil exploration and production), natural monopolies (e.g. electric grid and gas transmission), and high levels of risk that result from the combination of these attributes. Energy flows may also carry the added complexity of perceived national security externalities, such as supply risk in the form of oil import dependency on one partner.

    Dapice, David O., Malcolm McPherson, Michael J. Montesano, Thomas J. Vallely, and Ben Wilkinson. 2011. “Myanmar Agriculture in 2011: Old Problems and New Challenges”. Read Full Paper Abstract

    David O. Dapice, Malcolm McPherson, Michael J. Montesano, Thomas J. Vallely, and Ben Wilkinson, November 2011

    In May 2010, a team from the Rajawali Foundation Institute for Asia at Harvard Kennedy School wrote a report on approaches to the revitalization of Myanmar's agricultural sector for Proximity Designs, a Myanmar (Burma) social entrepreneurship organization. The same Harvard Kennedy School team (with one extra member) visited Myanmar in June 2011 to update and expand upon its 2010 report. Important changes had occurred since May 2010. A new government had assumed control; in an atmosphere of anticipation and some excitement, new and potentially effective policies were being discussed and developed. The drought in the Dry Zone had ended, but unseasonable rains had affected production. Some initiative had been taken to offer more agricultural credit to farmers, an important suggestion of the May 2010 report.

    Can We Put an End to Sweatshops?
    and Dara O’Rourke, Archon Fung, Charles Sabe. 2011. Can We Put an End to Sweatshops?. Beacon Press. Visit Publisher's Site Abstract

    Dara O’Rourke, Archon Fung, and Charles Sabe; Beacon Press, November 2011

    Sweatshops The MIT scholar who broke the news about Nike’s sweatshops argues, with two colleagues, that consumer choices can improve workers’ lives globally Seventy-five percent of Americans say they would avoid retailers whom they knew sold goods produced in sweatshops. And almost 90 percent said they would pay at least an extra dollar on a twenty-dollar item if they could be sure it had not been produced by exploited workers. Knowing that information about the conditions of workers around the world can influence what we buy, Dara O’Rourke, Archon Fung, and Charles Sabel argue that making that information widely available is the best way to improve conditions. Although watchdog agencies have tried to monitor working conditions and pressure corporations to adhere to international standards, the authors show how these organizations alone cannot do enough; only consumer action and the threat of falling profits will force corporate owners to care about the conditions of their workers. Respondents include activists, scholars, and officials of the International Labor Organization and World Bank.

    Ahlers, Douglas, Arnold M. Howitt, and Herman B. "Dutch" Leonard. 2011. “Preparing in Advance for Disaster Recovery”. Read Full Paper Abstract

    Douglas Ahlers, Arnold M. Howitt, and Herman B. "Dutch" Leonard, October 2011

    In the past decade, the world has looked in horror at many heart-wrenching scenes of human suffering and physical devastation in Asia – including the tsunami of 2004, China’s earthquake of 2008, Pakistan’s floods of 2010, and Japan’s earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear accident this year. Unfortunately, these will not be the last of such tragic events, given Asia’s significant exposure to natural disasters, increasingly complex and interdependent social and economic systems, intensifying urbanisation in risk-exposed locations, and its vulnerability to the impact of climate change.