The philanthropy data gap: measuring what matters – Tavneet Suri

MIT Sloan Associate Prof. Tavneet Suri

MIT Sloan Associate Prof. Tavneet Suri

From Financial Times

As philanthropy becomes a common source of finance for poverty-fighting programmes, it is natural for donors to want data about their impact on the people they want to help.

Yet measuring the benefits of philanthropy is surprisingly hard. How can we define and measure “income” in a village of subsistence farmers? Can we ask a street kid enrolled in a violence-prevention programme about his illegal activities? How do we know if a change in nutritional outcomes was the result of a social programme and not some other variable, like a change in food prices? How can we measure non-quantitative or non-monetary outcomes, like women’s empowerment or entrepreneurial motivation?

For many years, aid impact studies were based on anecdotal evidence or fragments of data. Over the past decade, searching for a more rigorous approach, development researchers have applied the “gold standard” of medical research: randomised controlled trials. In an RCT, researchers allocate an intervention, such as a microfinance loan, to a randomly selected test group of people and compare their outcomes with a control group. Read More »

What do job swapping and an MIT Sloan elective have in common? — Roberta Pittore

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Roberta Pittore

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Roberta Pittore

From Forbes México

In today’s economy, the need for global experience and cultural awareness is greater than ever. As a result, global talent swaps are becoming more common. These short-term assignments — where two employees from the same international firm trade positions for less than a year – are predicted to increase by 49 percent in the next two years, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report cited in The New York Times.

MIT Sloan has long supported students in gaining this type of global experience, offering a very popular elective course called Global Entrepreneurship Lab (G-Lab) for the last 15 years. It’s similar to a job swap in that it matches teams of MBA students for short-term assignments with startup companies in emerging markets. However, these are full-time second-year MBA students; they are not sent to MIT Sloan by the host company. Students’ incentive for choosing a specific host startup is often to gain hands-on experience in a new function or industry — and in a new country. The function/industry is often different from what they plan to focus on after graduation. The student groups work on an issue for the startup throughout the semester, meshing together as a team while living and working on-site for three weeks at the end of the term.

Mentoring adds another dimension to the job swap concept. Each G-Lab team is assigned a mentor from MIT. The mentors’ role is to help students see how to translate what they have learned from their previous employment and first-year coursework at MIT Sloan into something that will bring lasting value to the host company. The mentor tries to gauge the strengths and vulnerabilities of the team and guide them into becoming a cohesive unit. The mentor also steers the team toward resources and research to get them up to speed to make an impact at the company starting on day one. The companies play an additional mentoring role by matching C-level executives with the student team to provide guidance during their time onsite.

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To remain a superpower, the US must become inclusive and generous — Gita Rao

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer  Gita Rao

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Gita Rao

From Quartz 

In his new book, Superpower, Eurasia Group’s Ian Bremmer suggests three strategic options for America to remain a global superpower. But while many lawmakers appear to be taking his preferred option of an “Independent America” to heart, we believe it’s the wrong choice. In fact, Bremmer leaves out a fourth approach that we feel is the best strategy for America to win not only on the current global chessboard, but on the next one as well.

With the US reluctantly being drawn back into putting out fires in the Middle East, warily watching Russian aggression, facing a stop-and-start “Asia pivot,” and on the sidelines the Greek crisis unfolds or Chinese stock markets go through turmoil, reviewing these options is timely for President Obama; they may be even more important for his successor.

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Putting the TPP on the right track — Simon Johnson and Rep. Sander Levin

MIT Sloan Prof. Simon Johnson

From Politico Magazine

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a major potential trade agreement between the United States and 11 countries at very different levels of economic development, including Japan, Mexico and Vietnam. Will the agreement boost U.S. growth, address wage stagnation, help our strategic partners and create legitimate rules for international trade in the 21st century? The answer hangs in the balance.

With negotiations reported to be entering the final stages, it is critical that Congress focus at this point not on how to “fast track” approval of an agreement — through passing Trade Promotion Authority — but on making sure the TPP itself is on the right track.

There is a real choice to be made between two different approaches to international trade.

The first approach is based on the unbridled free-market view that more trade is necessarily better. The focus here is on eliminating regulatory barriers to exports and foreign investment. It is claimed that market forces will not just increase economic efficiency, but also improve governance in developing countries. Similarly, trade imbalances between nations will work themselves out.

Action learning in Latin America – Stuart Krusell

Director of the MIT Sloan Office of International Programs Stuart Krusell

Director of the MIT Sloan Office of International Programs Stuart Krusell

When a business in Latin America forms a partnership with one of MIT Sloan’s Action Learning programs, both the company and the students in the program emerge as winners.

A small team of students is assigned to work with the company. Most of the participants are second-year MBA students, who already had considerable work experience before starting their graduate studies. For the previous year or longer, the students have been gaining core management knowledge and skills in Sloan classrooms.

The company typically wants help considering the merits of a business initiative, such as entering a new market or launching a product. Many of the initiatives have an important technology component.

The Global Entrepreneurship Lab or G-Lab is the Sloan School’s largest Action Learning program, and it has a strong presence in Latin America. G-Lab participants spend three months studying the company remotely from MIT, learning about the business and its industry. Then, for three weeks, the students go to the company’s site, meeting with top executives and getting an up-close look at the operation. At the conclusion of the project, the team presents its recommendations.

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