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Daniel Honig Profile Image

Daniel Honig

Assistant Professor of International Development


Dan Honig is Assistant Professor of International Development and an affiliate of the International Political Economy program. Professor Honig's research focuses on the relationship between organizational structure, management practice, motivation, and performance in developing country governments and organizations that provide foreign aid. He has had his work published in journals including the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, International Organization, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Governance, World Development, Journal of COVID Economics, and Third World Quarterly. His 2018 book (Navigation by Judgment: Why and When Top-Down Control of Foreign Aid Doesn’t Work; Oxford University Press) examines the optimal level of autonomy in foreign aid intervention delivery and the role political authorizing environments and measurement regimes play in circumscribing that autonomy.

Prof. Honig has held a variety of positions outside of the academy. He 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 has worked for a number of local and international NGOs (e.g. Ashoka in Thailand; Center for Jewish-Arab Economic Development in Israel). A proud Detroiter, Prof. Honig holds an Honors BA from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in Public Policy from Harvard's Kennedy School.

Academic Journal/Press Publications

Honig, D. (Accepted/Forthcoming). Supportive Management Practice and Intrinsic Motivation Go Together in the Public Service. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Bertelli, A., M. Hassan, D. Honig, D. Rogger, & M. Williams. (2020). An Agenda for the Study of Public Administration in Developing Countries. Governance 33:4, 735-748.

Honig, D. (2020). Information, Power, & Location: World Bank Staff Decentralization and Aid Project Success.Governance 33:4, 749-769. Author's Final Version and online appendix downloadable below.

Bisbee, J. & D. Honig. (2020). Flight to Safety: 2020 Democratic Primary Election Results and COVID-19. Journal of COVID Economics 3, 54-84.

Honig, D. & C. Weaver. (2019). A Race to the Top?: The Aid Transparency Index and the Social Power of Global Performance Indicators. International Organization 73:3, 579-610. Related erratum here. Authors' final version and online appendix downloadable below. Reprinted (with some alterations/improvements) in Kelley, J. & B. Simmons (editors), 2020. The Power of Global Performance Indicators, Cambridge University Press. Chapter 5, 157-191.

Honig, D. (2019). When Reporting Undermines Performance: The Costs of Politically Constrained Organizational Autonomy in Foreign Aid Implementation. International Organization 73:1, 171-201. Author's final version and online appendix downloadable below.

Honig, D. (2019) Case Study Design and Analysis as a Complementary Empirical Strategy to Econometric Analysis in the Study of Public Agencies: Deploying Mutually Supportive Mixed Methods. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 29:2, 299-317.

Honig, D. (2018) Navigation by Judgment: Why and When Top Down Management of Foreign Aid Doesn't Work. Oxford University Press.

Honig, D. & N. Gulrajani. (2018). Making Good On Donors' Desire to Do Development Differently. Third World Quarterly 39:1, 68-84.

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. Authors' final version downloadable below.

Other Publications

Policy & Working Papers

Honig, D. (2020). Actually Navigating by Judgment: Towards a New Paradigm of Donor Accountability Where the Current System Doesn’t Work. Center for Global Development Policy Paper 169.

Honig, D., Lall, R., and Parks, B. (2020). When Does Transparency Improve Institutional Performance? Evidence from 20,000 Aid Projects in 183 Countries. AidData Working Paper #100. Williamsburg, VA: AidData at William & Mary.

Campbell, S., D. Honig, and S. Rose. (2020). Creating an Accountability Framework that Serves the Global Fragility Act's Mission. Center for Global Development.

Honig, D. (2019). The Power of Letting Go. Stanford Social Innovation Review, Winter 2019. Downloadable below.

Honig, D. and Lant Pritchett. (2019). The Limits of Accounting-Based Accountability in Education (and Far Beyond): Why More Accounting Will Rarely Solve Accountability Problems. Center for Global Development Working Paper 510. Washington, DC: Center for Global Development. Also issued as Research on Improving Systems in Education (RISE) Working Paper 19-030.

Honig, D. & S. L. Cramer. (2017). Strengthening Somalia’s Systems Smartly: A Country Systems Risk Benefit Analysis. Washington, D.C.: World Bank Group.

Gulrajani, N. & D. Honig (2016). Reforming Donors in Fragile States: Using Public Management Theory More Strategically. Overseas Development Institute (ODI) Report.

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.

Blogs, Op-Eds, Briefs, & Other Shorter Writing

Honig, D. (2020) Managing Better: What All of Us Can Do to Encourage Aid Success. Center for Global Development Policy Brief.

Bisbee, J. & D. Honig. (2020). Sanders was losing to Biden anyway. But he lost more in areas with coronavirus cases. Washington Post Monkey Cage, April 2, 2020.

Honig, D. (2019). Putting “Account” at the Center of “Accountability”: Why ICT Won’t Improve Education Systems (and Beyond), and What Will. Center for Global Development, May 24, 2019.

Honig, D. (2019). Let Local Leaders Lead: Why Donors Should Create More Space for Local Leadership. Development Leadership Program Blog, September 27. Center for Global Development version here.

Honig, D. (2017). How Frequent Reporting of Quantitative Accountability Measures Can Undermine Bureaucratic Performance. Basic Facts Brief, Scholars Strategy Network.

Honig, D. & J. Johnson (2017). Body Cameras Work - Just Not in the Way You Think (Op-ed). "On Policing", Police Foundation.

Book Reviews

Honig, D. (2020). Tyranny of Metrics by Jerry Z. Muller. Governance 33:3, 714-717.

Barma, N., S. Campbell, D. Honig, R. Ginty, & J. Rovner (2019). Roundtable on Campbell's Global Governance & Local Peace: Accountability & Performance in International Peacebuilding. Roundable 10-24, H-Diplo/ISSF.

Honig, D. (2018). The Development Dance: How Donors and Recipients Negotiate the Delivery of Foreign Aid by Haley Swedlund. Perspectives on Politics 16:4, 1233-1234.

Current Projects

Under Review

When Does Transparency Improve Institutional Performance? Evidence from 20,000 Projects in 183 Countries. Joint with Ranjit Lall and Brad Parks.

Flight to Safety: Covid-Induced Changes in the Intensity of Status Quo Preference and Voting Behavior. Joint with James Bisbee.

What Motivates Highly Trained Child Welfare Professionals to Stay or Leave? Joint with Joanne Sobeck & Lena Borragina-Ballard.

In Progress

Towards More Effective Government Service Delivery in Bangladesh: Local Engineers Mission & Motivation. Joint with Tim Besley & Adnan Khan.

Mission Match, Career Concerns, and Effectiveness: Thai Ampur-Level Vertical Bureaucrats.

Bad Actors or Bad Actions?: Developing Country Bureaucrats, Character, and Corruption.

The Bargaining Bureaucrat: The Power and Agency of Bureaucrats to “Make”, not just to “Take”. Joint with Özsel Beleli.

Global Economic Governance in Action: When and Why States Act on the IMF's Executive Board. Joint with Alexander Kentikelenis & Timon Forster.

Politicizing Capacity: Moving Beyond Country-Level Measures of State Potential Performance to Actual Comparative Behavior. Joint with Jen Tobin.

Policy-makers not Policy-takers: How Bureaucrats, not Principals, Catalyze IO Mission-aligned Performance. Joint with Susanna Campbell.

What World Bank Projects Get Evaluated? The Personnel Political Economy of Selection into RCTs. Joint with Vincenzo Di Maro, Arianna Legovini, Brad Parks, & Jennifer Rogla.

Back to the Future of Development: Mapping and Navigating a Fragmenting Field. Joint with Greg Larson & Michael Woolcock.



  • Africa
  • Liberia
  • South Sudan
  • Southeast Asia
  • Thailand
  • Timor-Leste


  • African Studies
  • Bureaucracy
  • Developing Nations
  • Economic Development
  • Foreign Aid and Global Poverty
  • Governance
  • International Development
  • International Political Economy
  • Political Economy & Development
  • World Bank and International Monetary Fund


  • English
  • Hebrew
  • Liberian English
  • Tetun
  • Thai

In the News

Navigating by judgment to achieve development impact.

Daniel Honig interviewed on In Pursuit of Development podcast, 05/12

Supportive management practice and intrinsic motivation go together in the public service.

Daniel Honig wrote for Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 03/26

Hopkins professors call for Trump's removal after rioters storm Capitol building.

Filipe Campante and Sarah Parkinson quoted and Daniel Honig cited in Johns Hopkins News - Letter, 01/08

COVID-19 likely to weigh on U.S. election turnout, outcomes

Daniel Honig interviewed in Johns Hopkins HUB, 4/16

U.S. government evacuation flights from Peru will soon be phased out

Daniel Honig quoted in The Washington Post, 4/9

Professor Daniel Honig Among Recipients of 2018 Catalyst Award

Assistant Professor of International Development Daniel Honig is among the distinguished group of Johns Hopkins faculty who has been honored with 2018 Catalyst Awards recognizing interdisciplinary research.