I'm an Assistant Professor of International Development (IDEV) at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. My research focuses on the relationship between organizational structure, management practice, and performance in developing country governments and organizations that provide foreign aid.  My forthcoming book Navigation by Judgment: Why and When Top-Down Control of Foreign Aid Won't Work (Oxford University Press 2018) focuses on the optimal level of autonomy in foreign aid intervention delivery and the role political authorizing environments and measurement regimes play in circumscribing that autonomy.  I am currently beginning a new work stream focused on what I call "mission-driven bureaucrats", attempting to better understand how optimal management practice is affected by the motivational mix of bureaucrats.

I've held a variety of positions outside of the academy. I was special assistant, then advisor, to successive Ministers of Finance (Liberia); ran a local nonprofit focused on helping post-conflict youth realize the power of their own ideas to better their lives and communities through agricultural entrepreneurship (East Timor); and have worked for a number of local and international NGOs (e.g. Ashoka in Thailand; Center for Jewish-Arab Economic Development in Israel). I also do some work on aid bargaining and aid coordination in fragile states, most recently in Somalia. A proud Detroiter, I hold a BA from the University of Michigan.


Dan Honig


1717 Massachusetts Avenue N.W., Room 735A, Washington, DC 20036


(202) 587-3253



“Organization matters, even in government agencies. The key difference between more and less successful bureaucracies… has less to do with finances, client populations, or legal arrangements than with organizational systems.”

James Q. Wilson (Bureaucracy, p. 23)




Honig, D. (2018) Navigation by Judgment: Why and When Top Down Management of Foreign Aid Doesn't Work. Forthcoming, Oxford University Press.
Honig, D. & N. Gulrajani. (2017).  Making Good On Donors' Desire to Do Development DifferentlyThird World Quarterly.

Grossman, S. & D. Honig. (2017). Evidence from Lagos on Discrimination across Ethnic and Class Identities in Informal Trade.   World Development 96: 520-528.  Replication materials and code here. Author's final version (ungated) here.

Honig, D. (2016). More Autonomy for Donor Organizations and Their Agents (Sometimes): Bringing Organizational Behavior and Management Theory to Foreign Aid Delivery.  Winner of the GDN Next Horizons 2014 Essay Contest, Supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  Revised version.
Under Review
Other Publications
Honig, D. & J. Johnson (2017).  Body Cameras Work - Just Not in the Way You Think (Op-ed). "On Policing", Police Foundation.
Gulrajani, N. &  D. Honig (2016). Reforming donors in fragile states: Using public management theory more strategically.  ODI Report, April 2016. (Peer reviewed, but without blind process)
In Progress
Who Governs the IMF? An exploration of IMF Executive Board Minutes.  Joint with Alex Kentikelenis.
Hierarchial Audit Design:  The Benefits of Increasing Transactional Density in Audit Studies.  Joint with James Bisbee.
The Fragmenting Aid Landscape.  Joint with Greg Larson and Michael Woolcock.
Transparency and Aid Effectiveness.   Joint with Ranjit Lall and Brad Parks.
Going Out to the Country:  World Bank Managerial Decentralization and Aid Project Success.



Introduction to Development (SAIS SA.400.821; Fall 2015)

Managing and Delivering Development Assistance (SAIS SA.400.776; Fall 2015)

External Interventions to Reduce Poverty – Foreign Aid (Harvard Economics 970; Spring 2012, 2014)
Rethinking Financial Inclusion: Smart Design for Policy and Practice (Harvard Kennedy Exec Ed; Spring 2014; Teaching Fellow/Facilitator)
Institutions and Development (Harvard Kennedy DPI 401; Fall 2011; Teaching Fellow)


Harvard University - PhD, Public Policy 2015
PhD Candidate in Public Policy, 2009-2015

Primary Field: Political Economy; Secondary Field: Organizational, Institutional, & Bureaucratic Behavior

Committee: Peter Hall, Beth Simmons, Ryan Sheely, Matt Andrews

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow

Doctoral Fellow, Harvard Multidisciplinary Program in Inequality & Social Policy

Oxford University- Visiting Academic 2012 - 2013
Department of Politics & International Relations
Princeton University- Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs 2006 - 2007
Graduate-level Studies in Public Affairs with focus on Development Studies
University of Michigan- BA in Political Science and Philosophy (Double Major), 2003
Honors College/Residential College, 1999-2003


Flint, MLK, and "insufficient funds"
Nash Equilibria

Nash Equilibria

What prompted me to start this blog today was John Nash’s passing.

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The People I Don’t Meet When I’m Walking Down the Street

The People I Don’t Meet When I’m Walking Down the Street

This morning I awoke to texts and calls telling me a friend was in trouble. Like many problems in life this one was complex, and required more than just money to solve – but money could make it easier. Being far away, and he being one of the approximately 10 million US households without a bank account, Western Union seemed the obvious choice to get him some cash; I pulled up my browser and got out my credit card. The systems put in place to prevent identity theft and fraud – from both Western Union itself and my credit card company – were giving me a headache. So I decided to just get the cash from an ATM and go to a Western Union; I remembered a Western Union sign on a check cashing place about 10 minutes walk from my home in Central Square in Cambridge, MA.

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