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Current Research

2015-Present: Governance and Internal Migration: A Cross-Regional Research Project
Many countries have experienced substantial internal migration from one locale to another, population movements that demand effective policy responses. Internal migration may be prompted by ‘pull factors’, such as perceived economic opportunities, or by ‘push factors’ such as poverty, violence, weather conditions, ecosystem degradation, or displacement due to infrastructure development.  Some of these population movements are directly encouraged, or even coerced, by governments; sometimes they are indirectly induced by the construction of physical infrastructure such as roads going into less developed areas. Thus both national governments and sub-national authorities have a stake and a responsibility for the outcomes triggered by the migration.  What are some ‘best practices’ that can help integrate internal migrants and host communities?
Internal Migration, Urbanization, and Governance: An Issue Paper

2013-2016: The Opportunities and Challenges of Growing East Asian-Latin American Economic Relations
The intensity and range of interactions between East Asia and Latin America have been increasing dramatically, with China’s expansion of trade for raw materials and food and the entry of Korean-owned forestry companies. on top of Japan’s long-standing cultural and trade relations, particularly with Brazil and Peru. These more intensive interactions are changing the structure of the East Asia-North America-Latin America nexus in significant economic—and possibly political--ways.  This calls for systematic scanning of the risks and opportunities that these changes may hold, as well as strategic thinking about steps to make the best of it for the various stakeholders.  The PBRC thus created this Taskforce to better understand these ever-changing relationships, which culminated with a 2015 Report (available here) and a 2016 meeting hosted by the Asia Society.

2013-2016: Gold and Green Together: The Search for Business and Environmental NGO Partnerships
There is strong potential for businesses to request the expertise of environmental non-governmental organizations in order to improve environmental stewardship and reduce the consumption of materials and energy.  Businesses may find partnering with environmental organizations to be an effective and efficient way to pursue social responsibility, enhance good will, and even realize cost savings.  The environmental organizations may find working with firms to be an attractively direct way to effect environmental improvements, and may gain in terms of visibility and funding.  However, determining whether to form such partnerships, and what arrangements may be optimal, is a complex challenge that requires careful consideration.  The Pacific Basin Research Center created a multi-sector task force chaired by Garry Brewer (Yale) and Jorge Rivera (George Washington University), with members from business, environment groups, government, and universities to develop a practical framework for assisting businesses and environmental groups to decide how to proceed.  After several informative meetings, the Taskforce published a final report in December 2015, which is available here.

2010-2013: The Evolution of Development Theory and Practice
This project tells the story of how the views and actions of development experts and practitioners have evolved over the past 65 years, critically assess these changes, project the likely future evolution of development thinking and practice, and point to the remaining challenges and the avenues for addressing them. In the process, it hopes contribute to broader public understanding and consensus around the aims and purposes of U.S. foreign aid and assistance, a more “broadly shared understanding,” as one old development hand put it over half a century ago, “of the what, why, and how of aid.” It is not simply that the American people question these aims, and have been for as long as the life of the Republic. (Washington himself, our first president, departed office warning against “entangling foreign alliances.”) Our political biases have never had the benefit of a clear awareness of the historical record, of what has been actually said and done and written by development practitioners as well as by the intellectuals and bureaucrats who guide them, support them, and sometimes use them for their own expedient ends.  This project resulted in the publication of The Evolution of Development Thinking: Governance, Economics, Assistance, and Security, written by Bill Ascher, Garry Brewer, Shabbir Cheema, and Jay Heffron (Palgrave 2016).  Click here to purchase, here to preview.

2009-2012: Economic Development Strategies and Inter-Group Conflict
Though many scholars and practitioners recognize that development and conflict are intertwined, there is much less understanding (or at least consensus) about the mechanism behind these linkages. In many cases, the causes of violence can be traced to social and economic conditions that produce frustration and humiliation among disadvantaged social groups. The question, which thus far has stayed outside of research focus, is how to identify strategies of development to reinforce the peaceful coexistence of different elements of the population and to encourage their cooperation. A global conflict syndrome – the sum of factors that work in parallel to undermine the stability of the international system and erode the foundations of human security – requires rigorous analysis of multiple linkages between development patterns and conflicts as well as innovative ideas of how to effectively incorporate conflict prevention into development interventions. Policy interventions based on erroneous theoretical assumptions or inconclusive empirical basis are known to have brought unanticipated negative results. Greater understanding of the links between economic development patterns and predispositions to avoid or engage in such conflicts would be very valuable to policymakers, policy advocates, and officials of agencies providing bilateral and multilateral assistance. This project resulted in three books published by Palgrave and edited by William Ascher and Natalia Mirovitskaya, focusing on conflict dynamics in regional contexts: Economic Development Strategies and the Evolution of Violence in Latin America (2012.  Click here to purchase, here to preview); Development Strategies, Identities, and Conflict in Asia (2013.  Click here to purchase, here to preview); and The Economic Roots of Conflict and Cooperation in Africa (2013.  Click here to purchase, here to preview).  The project culminated in one integrative study, Development Strategies and Inter-Group Violence: Insights on Conflict-Sensitive Development, written by William Ascher and Natalia Mirovitskaya (2015).  Click here to purchase, here to preview.

2008-2010: Physical Infrastructure Development
This projects represents an effort to address the key challenges of balancing economic growth, poverty alleviation, and environmental protection in the development of major physical infrastructure. Contributions to this volume reflected the perspectives of economics, engineering, planning, political science, and urban design on the impact of alternative financing and pricing arrangements, and the opportunities and risks of public-private partnerships. They also assess emerging approaches for restoring ecosystems degraded by past infrastructure development, and strategies for promoting farsighted infrastructure planning and protecting vulnerable people impacted by physical infrastructure expansion.  In 2010 Palgrave Macmillan published the result of this project, William Ascher and Corinne Krupp, eds. Physical Infrastructure Development: Balancing the Growth, Equity, and Environmental Imperatives.  Click here to preview, here to purchase.

2008-2010: Change and Persistence in an Era of Globalization
With this project, the PBRC examines how cultural groups and organizations in societies influenced by globalization respond to opportunities and pressures for cultural change. It addresses how these societies create new social values that allow individuals and groups to function effectively in an increasingly interdependent, international society, while protecting valued cultural traditions that give meaning to peoples’ lives. Various case studies explore the sources of cultural tensions arising from internationalization and “modernization” of societies in Asian and Latin American countries bordering the Pacific Basin.  The project culminated in William Ascher and John M. Heffron, eds. Cultural Change and Persistence: New Perspectives on Development (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).  Click here to preview, here to purchase.

2007-2009: Leadership for Development in a Globalizing Society
This research project on “leadership for development” explores how individuals and organizations in the Pacific Basin exercise effective leadership on economic, social, and political issues of global or regional concern within and across national borders. It asks how global interdependence among organizations in Pacific Basin nations affects approaches to and practices of leadership that influence decisions on important development issues. The project focuses on differences and similarities in leadership styles, approaches, concepts and methods across Pacific Basin cultures and societies and on how individuals and organizations influence development decisions.  Our project culminated in the publication of Dennis A. Rondinelli and John M. Heffron, eds. Leadership for Development: What Globalization Demands of Leaders Fighting For Change (Kumarian Press, 2009).  Click here to preview, here to purchase.

2005-2007: Globalization in Transition
Beginning 2004, the PBRC set out to examine concepts and approaches to human development in its social, economic, political, and cultural dimensions, examining ways in which changes in development policy can lead both in principle and in fact to a more peaceful society. Invited contributors explored the types of changes that have occurred in Asia as a result of development policies seeking to adjust to and capture the benefits of globalization, how adjustments were initiated and nurtured, and how changing development policies were implemented. This project explores the historic interplay of domestic and international political and economic forces in the region, asking whether and how mutually interactive forces, in a period of transition, are serving to alter the pace and characteristics of globalization in the Asian Pacific Rim and in the rest of the world.  It seeks to understand how and why governments, social organizations, and private enterprises in Asian countries have attempted to respond to globalization. The results of this investigation appear in Dennis A. Rondinelli and John M. Heffron, Globalization and Change in Asia (Lynne Rienner, 2007).  Click here to purchase.

Click here to access the PBRC's "The First Ten Years: 1991 - 2001"

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