My research investigates the political economy of governance and environmental management in developing countries. One main strand of my research addresses the ways that foreign donors can support better environmental management in the countries where they work. My book Giving Aid Effectively examines when and why member states and civil society groups can make the multilateral development banks, which manage approximately half of all international development finance, responsive to their environmental performance. Other recent projects investigate when foreign aid catalyzes private sector investment in emerging technologies, when externally-financed institution building persists over time, and how remotely sensed data can be used as part of geospatial impact evaluation to improve the evidence behind environment and development interventions.
Another main strand of my research investigates experimentally the effects of transparency on governance and political accountability. I am currently leading or co-leading several field experiments that investigate when information about the programmatic performance of politicians changes vote choice, whether citizen-sourced data on public services improves the governance of urban public services, how transparency encourages citizens to seek accountability from governments, why national-level transparency rating programs affect the actions of local governments in authoritarian contexts. All of these field experiments are designed and implemented as part of strong partnerships with implementing agencies around the world.
Current research is in the area of global environmental politics; governance and political structures at the local level through to the level of international organisations that include the United Nations and the World Bank; the participation of indigenous peoples in global governance; and the role of the indigenous peoples of Ecuador in environmental protection based on fieldwork conducted in 2016. Ongoing primary research in New York with participants from Ecuadorian indigenous communities, environmental lawyers and Corporate Social Responsibility institutions.
I joined Essex Business School in November 2013. Previously I held posts at Queen’s University Belfast (2007-2013) and Middlesex University Business School (1996-2007). I have published over 100 peer reviewed journal articles, book chapters and conference papers in areas such as social entrepreneurship, hybrid businesses, green supply chain management, the role of business in development, sustainability discourse, and ecopreneuring. I was the principal investigator on the ESRC funded Trickle Out Africa Project (2011 – present) which considers the impact of social and environmental enterprises on poverty alleviation and sustainable development across the 19 countries of Southern and Eastern Africa. The online Trickle Out Directory now lists over 2000 social purpose ventures. I am also the UK host of a Newton Advanced Fellowship with Dr Silvia Pinheiro from Brazil on “Inclusion and formalization of Amazonian informal entrepreneurs into MNC value chains – mechanisms, partnerships and impacts”. I also run the South Africa PhD partnership network in Social Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation. I am a member of the ESRC peer review college, a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a member of the British Council social science funding panel.