Development Centre

From Director of the OECD Development Centre to Greek Minister of Economy: Interview with Dr Louka Katseli



What are the experiences gained from your time at the OECD Development Centre that you will bring to your new role?

Managing and implementing change was the most valuable experience learnt at the OECD Development Centre during my four years as Director. The three main lessons were: a) that a vision of change needs to be developed and communicated early on in the process to produce value added to multiple stakeholders, b) that staff members need to be motivated and participate in the changes while existing resources are used efficiently and c) that clear and realistic objectives need to be achieved as soon as possible so that credibility can be enhanced.


As an economist who has headed a development economics think tank, what impact do you think the global economic crisis will have on the attitude of OECD countries, and the European ones in particular, towards developing countries?

Both the real impact and attitudes will be affected by the quality of political leadership and our collective capacity to initiate much needed reforms. The global economic crisis has made apparent the need to  address collectively, in an orderly manner, global macroeconomic imbalances, to regulate  effectively global financial markets and to  share equitably across developed and developing countries the benefits and costs of globalisation as well as the burden of adjustment to global challenges. It has also highlighted what development experts have known for a long time, namely the growing interdependence of financial markets and the real economy across different governance levels from the local to the national and global. These realisations underline the need for a bold overhaul of the existing global governance architecture with a view towards  increasing  transparency, strengthening  competencies of existing institutions,  filling in institutional gaps and strengthening the voice and representation of emerging economies and developing countries in decision making.


"The new decade could be a milestone for international development"


You have been both an academic and a practitioner of development policy making. How strong is the link between development academics and those in government who define and implement development policies? How can the relationship be strengthened?

The links are weak and need to be strengthened. This could and should start with education and training. I have been struck by the relative absence of organised graduate programmes in the area of public policy and development in most OECD countries and emerging economies, not to speak of developing countries. As a graduate of such a school in the US, namely the Woodrow Wilson School for Public and International Affairs, I have benefited tremendously from training that focuses on what it takes to implement policy under different institutional regimes and how to manage organisational change. To fill the gap, appropriate training programmes could and should be developed for development practitioners. The Athens Public Policy and Development Summer Institute which took place in 2008 with the participation of African and OECD development practitioners was a very promising initiative which should be continued. The OECD Development Centre and the DAC in collaboration with the European Association of Development Institutes (EADI) could  actively initiate and/or support similar  undertakings.


Do you believe that "milestones" for international development – 2010, a new decade, for example – can contribute to focusing more strongly on strategies? If so, what targets would you like to see adopted for the incoming decade?

Indeed the new decade could be a milestone for international development if the momentum is kept up and leadership remains focused. Priorities in my personal view should include: a) the pursuit of an active international dialogue on global economic governance reforms needed to tackle effectively old and new challenges  b)  the legitimisation of  the G-20 as a global economic governance group to resolve macroeconomic imbalances and assure  the systemic stability of the global economic system  c) the increased co-ordination across various stakeholders to pursue, in a  policy coherent manner,  efforts to tackle increased inequality and poverty worldwide and to attain the MDGs  d) mainstreaming the climate change and migration-development agendas into the G-20 and UN  policy dialogue process, and finally; e) mobilising public opinion effectively around the potential gains of policy coherence for development for all  stakeholders in both developed and developing countries.



Prior to joining the OECD, Professor Katseli held several academic and non-academic positions in Greek and international organisations. She has been chair of the Department of Economics of the University of Athens (1997-2001), Special Economic Advisor to the Prime Minister of Greece (1993-96), Director General of the Athens based Centre of Planning and Economic Research (1982-86), Assistant and then Associate Professor of Economics at Yale University (1977-1985). In 1996, she was appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General as Member of the Committee for Development Policy, where she served as Acting Member, Rapporteur and Vice-Chair until 1999. In 2000-02 she was the Greek Representative to the UN Financing for Development Conference.

A fellow to several international research institutes, including the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), Louka T. Katseli holds a BA in Economics from Smith College (1972), a Master in Public Administration from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University (1974), an MA in Economics (1975) and a Ph. D. in Economics (1978) from Princeton University.

Professor Katseli has published widely in international peer-reviewed journals. Her fields of specialisation include international trade and finance, economic development and macroeconomics. Most recently she has focused her research activities on the economics of legal and illegal labour migration, economic reforms, public policy effectiveness and institution-building in developing countries, political economy of the European integration and exchange-rate policy in emerging markets


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