GSDRC provides applied knowledge services on demand and online. Our expertise is in issues of governance, social development, humanitarian response and conflict. Our specialist research team supports a range of international development agencies, synthesising the latest evidence and expert thinking to inform policy and practice.

Join our team: two research vacancies

Can you quickly synthesise social science research findings? Do you write clearly and concisely? We're looking for two talented researchers and communicators to join our team: (1) a full-time researcher with experience linking economic development with governance; and (2) a part-time (60%) researcher with experience in governance or social development. GSDRC researchers carry out desk-based research and analysis in response to requests from the UK Government (DFID), Australian Government (DFAT), the European Commission, and other clients. Roles based at: University of Birmingham (UK). Apply by 1 Feb 2015.

Image: A tax processing and collection centre in Sri Lanka © Karl Grobl / The Asia Foundation

New Topic Guide:
Tax Reform

Tax reform can reduce tax evasion and avoidance, and allow for more efficient and fair tax collection that can finance public goods and services. It can make revenue levels more sustainable, and can promote future independence from foreign aid and natural resource revenues. There is increasing recognition of taxation’s role in state-building, in addition to greater understanding of its impacts on growth and inequality. This topic guide provides an overview of the limited, but growing, evidence on tax reform in developing countries.

Latest Document Summaries

Authoritarianism, democracy and development

Author: Tim Kelsall (2014)
Size: 22 pages (438 KB)

This paper finds that whether a state is authoritarian or democratic does not help us predict whether or not it will be developmental. Contextual characteristics that underpin developmental states include: internal and external threats incentivising development; institutionalised solutions for leadership succession; and flexible policies adapted to the country's factor endowments. In democracies there are extra conditions.

World Disasters Report: Focus on culture and risk

Author: International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (2014)
Size: 276 pages (6.3 MB)

Culture and beliefs, for example, in spirits or gods, or simple fatalism, enable people to live with risks and make sense of their lives in dangerous places. This IFRC report highlights that local people's cultures can both hinder and support disaster risk reduction and adaptation. But opportunities are often missed because organisations do not view culture as important. It notes that organisations need to acknowledge (and where possible work with) beliefs that do not fit with the agency's own logic.