Push vs. pull: A tale of two strategies

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March 20, 2019

Poverty often shows itself as a lack of resources, such as schools, roads, hospitals, and even properly functioning institutions. It’s understandable then, that organizations and governments would try to invest in—or push—education, healthcare, clean water, and the like into poor communities in an attempt to eradicate poverty. Unfortunately, the impact of such efforts often falls short.

Studies and reports that highlight the overwhelming lack of success in many institutional reform projects are all too common. In his research, Harvard University professor, Matt Andrews, has found that an astonishing 70% of reforms have muted results. Although these projects are well-intentioned, many fail because the fundamental strategy is “pushing” what seem to be the “right solutions”—most of which have a track record of working well in prosperous countries—into low- and middle-income countries. In this video, I explain why this doesn’t work by discussing two contrasting development strategies: pushing, and pulling.

Efosa Ojomo is a senior research fellow at the Christensen Institute, and co-author of The Prosperity Paradox: How Innovation Can Lift Nations Out of Poverty. Efosa’s work focuses on using Disruptive Innovation theory to fundamentally change the discourse in the global development community, thus enabling nations to engender their own path to long-term growth and prosperity.