The changing geographies of global development

The primary focus of Emma Mawdsley’s research work is global development politics (for a longer list of publications, please click here). She has worked extensively on ‘South-South Development Cooperation’, with a particular but not exclusive focus on India. Her most recent paper on future directions of SSDC will be published shortly in Oxford Development Studies. It is on ‘South-South Cooperation 3.0? Managing the consequences of success in the decade ahead’.

Abstract: Perhaps the most significant trend in international development over the last 15 years has been the remarkable expansion of South-South Cooperation (SSC). This paper examines the unfolding consequences of the sea change in the visibility and influence of SSC from around the early millennium, when many Southern states began to expand their development partnerships and activities. The paper constructs a specific periodisation for the analytical purposes of the argument. I suggest that ‘SSC 1.0’ ran from the 1950s to the early millennium, during which time two shared features of otherwise varied contexts, programmes and actors was their relatively small size; and their relative neglect and marginalisation by the ‘mainstream’ international development community and its critics. ‘SSC 2.0’ refers to the period of remarkable expansion from the early millennium to the present. The emergence of ‘SSC 3.0’, I suggest, is currently revealed by a discernible set of shifts driven in large part by the expansionary successes of SSC 2.0, as well as other turns in the global political economy. Three contemporary trends are identified: cooperation narratives that are increasingly ‘muscular’, nationalistic and pragmatic; difficulties sustaining claims to ‘non-interference’ in partner countries; and some erosion of ideational distinctiveness. 

Emma is also working on how the OECD-DAC donors are re-engineering their narratives, tools and strategies to a rapidly changing global development landscape. Recent work on this subject includes a piece on the ‘Southernisation’ of development, published in Asia Pacific Viewpoint

Abstract: A more polycentric global development landscape has emerged over the past decade or so, rupturing the formerly dominant North-South axis of power and knowledge. This can be traced through more diversified development norms, institutions, imaginaries and actors. This paper looks at one trend within this turbulent field: namely, the ways in which ‘Northern’ donors appear to be increasingly adopting some of the narratives and practices associated with ‘Southern’ development partners. This direction of travel stands in sharp contrast to expectations in the early new millennium that the (so-called) ‘traditional’ donors would ‘socialise’ the ‘rising powers’ to become ‘responsible donors’. After outlining important caveats about using such cardinal terms, the paper explores three aspects of this ‘North’ to ‘South’ movement. These are (a) the stronger and more explicit claim to ‘win-win’ development ethics and outcomes; (b) the (re)turn from ‘poverty reduction’ to ‘economic growth’ growth as the central analytic of development; and (c) related to both, the explicit and deepening blurring and blending of development finances and agendas with trade and investment.

Emma is increasingly focussing on development finance, Development Finance Institutions, and private sector partners in development. This includes current work on the Commonwealth Development Cooperation as part of a research team led by Dr Luis Mah at the University of Lisbon (; and work on development consultancies in a team led by Jo-Anna Russon at Nottingham Trent University (