After our interviews in Bogotá, Honduras and Jamaica in preparation for the Case Study which we are now almost done writing, we have identified interesting aspects regarding (1) ownership and mutual accountability, (2) transparency and information, (3) champions and (4) triangular cooperation. The field work in both donor and recipient institutions, at both political and technical levels, has provided us with key information and data that allows a comprehensive analysis. After sharing with you our findings about ownership and mutual accountability, and about transparency and information, here comes the third one, regarding champions.
As far as champions are concerned, our research has focused on (1) what are the characteristics of champions and (2) what factors favour their appearance.
Personal interest is key. Champions are often trained (or plan to be) in the project area in which they become champions and have a personal interest in pursuing a career in the field, and therefore to participate actively in the project. They generally show a determination to be a do-gooder and contribute to capacity building and national development of their country.
This is completed by efficient communication and leadership skills, which prove essential if they do not have decision-making power and “selling” the project to both decision makers and beneficiaries. They are often popular, recognised in their institution, energetic, persistent, and know how to motivate and articulate the efforts of various stakeholders.
Factors that favour their appearance
First, the commitment of high-level decision makers and their ability to rally around a cause they deem to be important for development help the appearance of followers who can become champions. Second, a solid institutional framework with relatively clear strategic plans and experienced staff will certainly create a favourable ecosystem. Highstaff rotation rates undermine continuity in institutional commitment and affect the emergence of champions. Third, innovative development solutions (such as flexible and context-relevant techniques) or project methodologies (such as new methods of training and capacity building) will definitely foster the creation of champions whose motivation will be based on taking part in something new.
Our case study will also focus on the importance of champions in SSC contexts, including very concrete recommendations as to how to adapt this figure to emerging cooperation methodologies.