Managing Absorptive Capacity

Analyzing and improving the donor-recipient relationship.

International aid and private investments cannot succeed without a realistic understanding of the desires, knowledge, political economy, and capacity of the intended beneficiaries or local market. This project analyzes the absorptive capacity of recipient societies, the political economy of sectors and communities, the capacity of donors to delivery locally appropriate aid, and the risks that conflict and violence pose to success.  Robert D. Lamb, director of CSIS's Program on Crisis, Conflict, and Cooperation (C3), is the principal investigator for this line of research, assisted by Kathryn Mixon.

In early 2013, Lamb and Mixon completed Phase 1 of "Managing Absorptive Capacity in the Security and Justice Sectors," a project sponsored by the UK's Department for International Development to develop a method for identifying and overcoming constraints on the capacity to absorb aid in the security and justice sectors and thereby improve the fit between program design and local conditions. The output of that project was a prototype analytic tool, Managing Absorptive Capacity (MAC). Rather than discovering during implementation that some aspect of an intervention is locally infeasible, MAC is designed to field-test a detailed model of the intervention to discover such problems before implementation.

Key publications: