Dec 9, 2017

How to Overcome Delivery Gaps: Some Examples from Korea

Kyoungeun Choi , Team Manager, Innovation Team
Jacob Bathanti , Consultant

Discussing how to use case studies to capture lessons about overcoming delivery challenges.
Photo Credit: Korea Development Institute.

How can developing countries balance technological and institutional challenges to improve tax administration or reform water governance? How can policymakers craft incentives to make antipoverty initiatives work better? How can practitioners ensure programmatic resilience to disruptions from staff turnover and changes in government to natural disasters and epidemics? These kinds of delivery challenges – obstacles, often non-technical in nature, that threaten to impede the implementation of devilment interventions – that frequently shape the trajectories of development interventions. Their effects on development outcomes, and on success and failure, have real impacts on people’s lives, and practitioners often need to prepare for or adapt to delivery challenges. At the core, this is why the Global Delivery Initiative (GDI) and its partners focus keenly on facilitating knowledge sharing about delivery challenges across the development sphere.

The Korean experience since the 1960s offers a wealth of intriguing examples of tackling delivery challenges to achieve development outcomes, ranging widely across sector and across time: from improving forestry management and electrifying rural villages in the 1960s and 1970s, to increasing workforce participation of people with disabilities in the 1990s and 2000s.  The KDI School of Public, Policy and Management (KDIS) is a key GDI partner, with a focus that includes capturing and systematizing and sharing this considerable and unique experience addressing delivery challenges and promoting development.

KDI, in collaboration with the GDI Secretariat, has completed 7 Knowledge Sharing Program (KSP) Modularization cases. GDI and KDIS are excited to share them and to embark upon wider dissemination of these cases through an upcoming event in Korea. At this one-day event on December 15 in Seoul, participants from Korea’s ODA community, practitioners, academics, researchers and graduate students from Korea and abroad will disseminate the findings from these case studies and discuss methodologies/approaches to address the emerging shift in thinking and delivery of Official Development Assistance (ODA) with a focus on delivery challenges. The event will connect policymakers, practitioners, and researchers from organizations in Korea and around the world to share learnings from Korea’s development experience, to facilitate knowledge exchange around GDI approaches and strategies; and to explore avenues for further action research on delivery challenges in the public sector.

For GDI, some of the key lessons from these case studies include the following diverse experiences, all documented in recently-published case studies, and examining how to overcome diverse delivery challenges:

  • A program focusing on training workers at small and medium enterprises in the wake of the 1997 Asian financial crisis faced delivery challenges specific to SMEs: low uptake due to organizational, information, technical and managerial constraints. Policymakers addressed this issue by engaging businesses and training institutions in a more systematic way, and increased adaptability and iterations throughout the project helped the program benefit from accumulated experience.
  • The Saemaul Undong program, which aimed to combat rural poverty and develop rural infrastructure in the 1970s, faced the delivery challenge of poor engagement and communication with rural populations and consequent low participation rates, as well as lack of interest from local officials. The government responded by setting up stronger monitoring and evaluation and incentive systems, which helped build better linkages of accountability and commitment between levels of government and among villagers.
  • A program to promote employment of people with disabilities since the 1990s has faced delivery challenges that included resistance from private companies, as well as a lack of marketable skills on the part of many people with beneficiaries. Policymakers responded with three policies to overcome these delivery challenges:  strengthening the legal system to fully enable the employment quota system, providing training for disabled job-seekers to solve a shortage of skilled labor, and implementing education programs to change business owners’ negative views of people with disabilities.

We hope that this whets your appetite for more findings on how delivery challenges were overcome in the Korean context and beyond. Stay tuned for more updates!