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Bringing in the Future

Strategies for Farsightedness and Sustainability in Developing Countries

Bringing in the Future

Strategies for Farsightedness and Sustainability in Developing Countries

Humans are plagued by shortsighted thinking, preferring to put off work on complex, deep-seated, or difficult problems in favor of quick-fix solutions to immediate needs. When short-term thinking is applied to economic development, especially in fragile nations, the results—corruption, waste, and faulty planning—are often disastrous. In Bringing in the Future, William Ascher draws on the latest research from psychology, economics, institutional design, and legal theory to suggest strategies to overcome powerful obstacles to long-term planning in developing countries.

Drawing on cases from Africa, Asia, and Latin America, Ascher applies strategies such as the creation and scheduling of tangible and intangible rewards, cognitive exercises to increase the understanding of longer-term consequences, self-restraint mechanisms to protect long-term commitments and enhance credibility, and restructuring policy-making processes to permit greater influence of long-term considerations. Featuring theoretically informed research findings and sound policy examples, this volume will assist policy makers, activists, and scholars seeking to understand how the vagaries of human behavior affect international development.

288 pages | 8 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2009

Economics and Business: Economics--Development, Growth, Planning


“This is an imaginative and sophisticated treatment of a tremendously important, albeit extremely complicated, collection of topics. Few authors could have carried this off as well as Ascher given his long and varied career as both a distinguished policy scientist and responsible practitioner. Indeed, he virtually draws on almost everything he knows as he classifies, inventories, and assesses dozens of different ways, means, and strategies to promote what he terms ‘far-sightedness.’”

Garry D. Brewer, Yale School of Management

“Why do policy makers often make decisions that are not in their countries’ long-term interests and how can they be encouraged to be more farsighted? These questions are critical for so many aspects of the development agenda and are the subject of this fascinating book. The brilliance of this book is William Ascher’s comprehensive approach—drawing on economics, politics, and psychology—to analyze decision making, provide many useful ideas for expanding time horizons, and improve policy.”

Jennie Litvack, Lead Economist, World Bank

Bringing in the Future is a lucid, multidisciplinary analysis of how we—our governments and our societies—can overcome the comfort and limitations of a short-term perspective in our policy- and decision making for the benefit of humankind and the planet. This book is based on Professor Ascher’s lifelong experience as a scholar and policy adviser to international organizations and developing nations but its findings have universal value. A must-read for the policy analyst and the world’s aspiring leaders.”

Francis Lethem, Duke University

Table of Contents

List of Tables
I                       The Challenges and Hopes for Farsighted Action
1          The Challenge of Farsightedness
2          The Root Causes of Shortsightedness and Their Manifestations in Developing Countries
3          Gaining Traction to Overcome Obstacles to Farsightedness
II                      Structuring Rewards and Risks
4          Creating and Rescheduling Tangible Benefits and Costs
5          Creating and Rescheduling Social and Psychological Rewards
6          Realigning Performance Evaluation
7          Self-Restraint Instruments
III                    Improving Analytic Frameworks
8          Analytic Exercises
9          Deepening Problem Definitions
IV                    Framing the Appeals
10        Design Dimensions of Communicating Farsighted Appeals
11        The Triple Appeal Principle
12        Managing Heuristics
V                     Changing the Policy Process
13        Empowering and Insulating the Farsighted Leader
14        Structuring Decision-Making Processes
15        Conclusions


International Political Science Association's Research Committee on the Structure and Organization of Government (SOG): Charles A. Levine Memorial Book Prize

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