Governance, States and Advocacy

Theme Lead: Dr Dan Hammett

Development is about power – the power of states but also a broad range of other actors who advocate, contest, and resist in the midst of development processes and programmes. This research network is interested in both the changing political dynamics of governance as a help or hindrance to development and the emergence of social movements driven by ideas of how development can be improved. You can read some of our blogs or listen to a podcast here. We are interested in research themes such as:

  • Development, struggle, and social justice;
  • Development strategy and ‘developmental states’;
  • Development, aid, and advocacy;
  • The changing landscape of social movements for development;
  • The private sector, celebrity and development governance;
  • Development and global governance.

Current projects

Promoting ethical and sustainable supply chains through accounting and HR practices

Researchers: Prof. Pauline Dibben

Companies need to take responsibility for what happens down their supply chain. The ‘SCA-Emp’ project evaluates how companies tackle accounting and human resources down their supply chains, engaging with existing debates on global value chains, supply chain accounting and employment relations. The project has been funded by the UK government’s Economic and Social Research Council in addition to follow-on funding from the ESRC Impact Accelerator Account. It has involved a quantitative survey and qualitative case study research within textiles and automotive companies in South Africa and Brazil. Led by Professor Dibben (PI), the project team of scholars from the UK (University of Sheffield; University of Essex), South Africa and Brazil has worked closely with an Advisory Board of academics and practitioners. They have run nine workshops, produced publications and also developed a diagnostic toolkit that is free for companies to use and is available from

Resilience policymaking in Nepal: giving voice to communities

Researchers: Dr Simon RushtonDr. Julie Balen, Prof. Bhimsen Devkota, Prof. Jonathan Joseph, Dr. Jiban Karki, Dr. Andrew Lee, Dr. Martina McGuinness, Dr. Sarita Panday

An intensive resilience policy-making process is currently underway in Nepal, with significant input from international donors and advisers. But how (and how far) do international ideas about resilience building filter down to the communities who are supposed to benefit from them? And, the reverse, how well do these international ideas reflect the perceptions and needs of communities on the ground?

This project is using a participatory video approach to create new and potentially challenging interventions in the ongoing resilience policy process. In using participatory video, we seek to address the gap that exists in Nepal between national-level resilience policy-making (undertaken with the support of the international community) and community-level perceptions and expectations. In so doing, the project will seek to give those most-affected by the overlapping challenges of poverty, conflict and environmental change a powerful way to engage with – and potentially influence – high-level policymakers.

In particular the project will examine:

1. What are the study communities’ own perceptions of the threats they face? Are these reflected in the views and perceptions of policymakers?

2. How have the study communities faced previous challenges to their wellbeing? What adaptation strategies have they employed and what can be learned?

3. What are the perceived/identified roles of government (national and local) vis a vis building community resilience? How effectively is government seen to be fulfilling those roles?

Academics from the University of Sheffield and from Nepal will be working alongside PHASE Nepal, a well-established development NGO, in three communities where small groups of residents will produce short films capturing their experiences and perceptions of risk and resilience that will then be shared and discussed with key audiences at the village, District and national levels. The overall aim is to facilitate and improve the sensitization of policymakers to community-level perceptions, thereby potentially opening up new policy directions, ideas and opportunities.