Working Group Employment for Stability

The working group Employment for Stability within the Knowledge Platform Security & Rule of Law, which forms part of a knowledge management initiative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is facilitated by Johan te Velde of Double Loop. Latest information can be found here, and from July 2013 the platform will have its own website.

The leading question of the working group is to what degree does increased employment lead to increased stability and peace in fragile and conflict-affected countries.

The working group is comprised of practitioners and policy officers within the field of international cooperation, as well as representatives from policy research institutes and universities. The working group prepared an Action Plan that should reflect the highest levels of societal and policy relevance. In the end, the Action Plan will inform proposals for concrete (action) research on employment for stability, which will be put out to tender in the autumn of 2013.

To identify relevant research topics, the current focus of the working group is to more firmly and structurally include the perspectives of the private sector and the Southern actors.


What else?

Obviously, this working group looks at the relation between employment and stability. Intuitively, it seems obvious that increased employment, especially among youth, leads to more stability in fragile and conflict-affected states. But is this really the case? And if so, how does it work exactly?

The World Development Reports of 2011 and 2013 were rather optimistic and concluded that: “When the conditions are right, employment indeed leads to stability”.

It is with this wisdom in mind, the working group will:

  1. Look into the relation between employment, violence, and instability; how does this relation work exactly and how does it change in different contexts and over time?
  2. Examine the impact of the actual employment and entrepreneurship programmes on the local and on the national labour markets? There are different families of programmes: SME promotion, value chain development, cash for work, etc.. What are their specific strengths and weaknesses? Under which circumstances?
  3. Examine labour markets in fragile states, particularly looking at the interplay between macro economics (market failures, investment policies, incentive structures for using labour instead of capital, insurance aspects, etc.) and micro-economics.
  4. Look at multinational companies, operating in fragile settings, and employment creation and stability.

From the start it is clear that the implementation of the action plan will not be without challenges:

  • A clear difference between a Southern and a Northern perspective on what is relevant
  • HQ’s and field offices of the same organisations often have different perspectives
  • Further, it is a challenge to have scientists, practitioners and policy makers to work together
  • On top of the above three challenges, the dynamic nature of development in fragile and post-conflict settings demands continuous adjustment of plans.

Therefore, the working group will determine upfront whose questions we want to answer and how the research should be done. It will use dynamic approaches as action learning and action research. The action-oriented approach will rely on regular exchanges of experiences, lessons learned, innovations and pitfalls. This includes continuous feedback on the action research agenda. Many of the activities will be developed and implemented with practitioners (from North and South) involved, or even in the lead. And lastly, Southern Reference groups in the countries/regions where the working group is developing its portfolio will be established. Particularly, Southern policy makers and NGO’s will be invited, but also some international stakeholders, working locally. The reference groups will guide research to ensure the relevance to the needs of the target groups and provide a sounding board to the working group.

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