Winners of this year’s Nobel Prize for Economics are applauded "for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty." - And here’s MAD’s take on it.
MAD (Make A Difference) is a Swedish Organisation that works in partnership with institutions, civil society organisations and entrepreneurs around the world to catalyze leaps in social innovation. Due to MAD’s strong advocacy for experimental approaches, root-cause-focus and local collaborations, the organisation was asked by the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology to comment on the Swedish Riksbank's prize in economic science to Alfred Nobel's memory, announced by The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
This is a summary of MAD’s input: In a time where many “leaders” look for quick gains, both financially and politically - this Nobel Prize refreshingly shows how another leadership is possible. Our vision is a world where “MAD is the new Normal”; where exploring outside the mainstream narrative and paradigm in a way that makes a difference is the norm rather than the exception. With that in mind, we couldn't be happier about the nomination of this year's Nobel Laureates and the development of a thought leadership that we hope will inspire changemakers and leaders across organizations and institutions, especially with regards to:
Experimental Exploration Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo, Michael Kremer were awarded the prize “for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty”. At a time when the only thing that is constant is change and the rate of change is constantly increasing, we cannot solve today's problems with the same mindset that created them - which means we have to dare to experiment! Often in development work there is a need for predictable outcomes. Donors and impact investors demand predictable results - which often focuses efforts on tackling an immediate, surface-level need. It takes real courage to delve below the quick and predictable wins, to embrace the complexity of working on the root causes - a prerequisite for addressing the systemic shifts that will be required for the next generation of societal solutions. This prize illustrates the need to shift from a mindset that measures the isolated impact of individual initiatives to a sector that values experimentation, shared learning and the distillation of insights that we can all collectively build upon.
Anchoring in the Local Context The emphasis the laureates put on not fighting poverty based on caricatures, is extremely important at a time when we see many tendencies towards “us and them” polarization. Simplified stereotypes provide a strong indication that local communities are not involved in the conversation or co-creation of solutions - an “intervention” that is not locally created or owned overlooks the nuances of the local context and is not sustainable, whereas locally led solutions that are the result of smaller, carefully designed local experiments are resilient and can more easily adapt to changing conditions.
Embracing Collaboration & Diversity The social challenges we face will not be solved by any single individual, discipline, or industry - we need to come together across borders. Therefore, the award winners’ emphasis of the collective effort and the diversity amongst them, gladdens us deeply. This is the second time in history a woman has been awarded the prize and although the Laureates expressed surprise at being awarded the prize at such a young age - we believe that with over 50% of the world’s population under 30 we will see even younger social innovators winning these type of prizes in future.
Emelie Ekblad & Fiona Hazell
LINKS: Prize announcement:
Example of a MAD initiative in Uganda
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Source: MLA style: Abhijit Banerjee – Facts – 2019. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Media AB 2019. Wed. 11 Dec 2019. <>
Source: MLA style: Esther Duflo – Facts – 2019. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Media AB 2019. Wed. 11 Dec 2019. <>
Source: MLA style: Michael Kremer – Facts – 2019. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Media AB 2019. Wed. 11 Dec 2019. <>