Learning to Engage New Investors for Economic Diversification: PDIA in Action in Sri Lanka
CID Faculty Working Paper No. 336
Matt Andrews, Duminda Ariyasinghe, Krishantha Britto, Peter Harrington, Nelson Kumaratunga, M.K.D. Lawrance, Tim McNaught, Hemadree Naotunna, Ganga Palaketiya, Anisha Poobalan, Dilip Samarasinghe, and Prasanjith Wijayathilake
Many countries, like Sri Lanka, are trying to diversify their economies but often lack the capabilities to lead diversification programs. One of these capabilities relates to engaging new investors—in new sectors—to bring their FDI and know-how to a new country and kick-start new sources of activity. This paper narrates a recent (and ongoing) initiative to establish this kind of capability in Sri Lanka. The initiative adopted a Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA) process, where a team of Sri Lankan officials worked with Harvard Center for International Development (CID) facilitators to build capabilities over a six-month period. The paper tells the story of this process, providing documented evidence of the progress over time (and describing thinking behind the PDIA process as well). It shows how an investment engagement approach can emerge in a reasonably limited period, when a committed team of public officials are effectively authorized and engaged. The paper will be of particular interest to those thinking about investor engagement challenges and to those interested in processes (like PDIA) focused on building state capability and fostering policy implementation in public contexts.
Affiliated Research Program: Building State Capability