Academic advice has repeatedly failed to aid development in the Third World, officials of nine developing countries said yesterday at a Kennedy School of Government symposium.
Criticizing excessive planning and economic analysis in development strategies, the chairman of the panel, John W. Thomas, said "the cost-benefit analysis taught in courses at Harvard and other schools is often irrelevant when real-world implementation problems in developing countries are considered."
Belai Abai, former minister of land reform in Ethiopia, added that "Countries receive advice from Harvard, Oxford and Cambridge and they follow it and somehow things just don't work."
The panel identified lack of coordination, faulty distribution systems, inadequate use of local resources and short-term funding as some of the major problems of traditional aid and development programs.
Y.F.O. Masakhalia, secretary of economic planning in Kenya, said. "It's not that economics doesn't have any role at all to play in development, but training programs must go beyond economic planning and cultivate the mind to make correct decisions."
While disagreeing on the priorities of development planning, the panelists were unanimous in the conclusion that the concept of development must be broadened.
"We don't have to change development strategy altogether, but we must 'develop' it," A. K. M. Muhith, secretary of External Resources Division in Bangladesh, said, adding, "We must not forget that ultimately this is human development we are dealing with."
The panelists, all graduates of the Master of Public Administration program at the Kennedy School, last week participated at the World Bank Conference at which Paul McNamara, the bank's president, resigned.