Home > English > Research > Research Projects > With other funding


Cross-Sectoralization of Development in Southeast Asia: how development entities, academics, populations and public authorities are increasing their co-intervention in social affairs

(Research project of Gabriel FACAL, Deputy director and researcher at IRASEC)


In the last decade, civil society organizations (CBOs, NGOs, foundations, think tanks, social enterprises and consulting firms in development research and training) have seen their funding melting (Sciortino 2018). Moreover, several southeast Asian countries have moved up from poor to (higher) middle income countries, so they don’t qualify anymore for certain forms of funding, while inequalities in growth have increased. For their part, academics have endured a general and unidirectional dynamic of individualization of the professional profiles. They are evolving in a regional context where the norm is based on university and research rankings, bibliometrics and citation indexes, but also where the private sector (and particularly the commercial and advertising sector) represent a significant outlet for young social scientists. This important trend implies more internationalization, but less cohesive force in the local laboratories, less contact with the communities in the field, and finally an individualized space for initiative regarding cross-sectoral collaboration instead of long-term team projects. Academics are also expected to communicate more with the public outside academia, through open access publishing, digital media dissemination and other more conventional tools for broadcasting, like the radio and TV.

Within this context of double pressure, to overcome material or funding failures, cross-sectoral reconversion can provide work opportunities to both development actors (who convert to academics or address new kinds of funders) and academics (who increase their chances to attract consultancies and private funding for their Ph.D. or career). Development actors can benefit from using scientists to increase the integration of their projects and to inscribe them in a more holistic understanding of the social environment in which they are implemented. They can also gain autonomy by appropriating the methodological tools of academics as well as their conceptual levers to further understand the local meanings of notions such as hierarchy, mutualization, or commons. For everyone, cross-sectoral dialogue may enhance legitimacy to address public authorities and facilitate joint projects demands, as it appears in several international funding scheme requirements (ADB and UN, or foundations like Asia, Ford, Open Society, Rockfeller, and Spencer Foundations). Ultimately, these crossovers can increase the quality of programs, better aligning them with the needs and expectations of populations when it comes to capacity-building in environmental protection, self-management of resources, education, or digital literacy.

CROSSDEV-SEA aims to address the experiences implemented in different entities in charge of development throughout Southeast Asia (Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines) in order to study in a collaborative way with them the fabric of cross-sectoral development in the making. This new dynamic will be analyzed by taking into account the initial assumptions made by these entities, the new practices they intend to implement, the pitfalls they have encountered and, through a reflexive approach, the potential contradictions they are likely to face. In a complementary and reciprocal way, the research consortium includes academic institutional partners who will reflect on the possible bridges between academia and development, as much in theoretical, methodological and ethical aspects as in terms of professional opportunities and individual trajectories.