CFP: The Science of Delivery, December 9-12, 2014. Hong Kong

Many countries are trying to understand why the policies put in place to reduce poverty and build shared prosperity are not leading to the results they want. The tensions we see in countries such as Greece, Nigeria, Egypt, Turkey, Brazil, Ukraine and India arise in part from the gap between rising expectations of citizens and their everyday experience. One way forward could be a new form of knowledge, the “science of delivery”. This concept is borrowed from the healthcare field, where the previous emphasis on understanding the causes and consequences of health issues, is shifting to give more attention to organizing, managing and financing health promotion. The challenges for health and other public services are both to improve the quality and accessibility of the services, and to manage citizen’s expectations so as not to get too far beyond the ability of their society to deliver.

Governments and development partners have a treasure trove of evidence using a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods linking successful delivery of interventions with local politics, culture, capacity, and other factors that affect delivery outcomes. However, some of this experience is not easily accessible, buried in lengthy reports, files, datasets, and as tacit knowledge in the heads of practitioners and evaluators. At the same time, there have been recent theoretical advances in many scholarly fields ranging from systems engineering, behavioral economics, complexity, and organizational development that are being exploited to help countries organize the emerging evidence on successful delivery to help them improve development results. These new sources of knowledge help managers in adapting their projects to local conditions, ultimately resulting in a higher level of success.

Key elements of the “science of delivery” are to ensure that projects or interventions have adequate monitoring and evaluation (M&E) mechanisms, and to ensure these are linked to feedback loops to ensure management of expectations, continual learning, experimentation, results monitoring, and redesign based on experience. The conference will provide examples of such deeply contextual approaches to learning. Where learning is generalizable, examples will be given of mechanisms for taking ideas to scale through communities of practice and other forms of diffusion and implementation.

By creating better monitoring and evaluation systems, making available user-friendly evidence, linking evidence from monitoring information and evaluation to feedback-loops in learning, and enhancing the diffusion of information, researchers and evaluators can make greater contributions to advancing the science of delivery and ultimately lead to well-informed, evidence-based decision-making.

The conference will be limited to 40 participants, including scholars and practitioners from universities, think tanks, government agencies, and service providers from around the world. Paper submissions are welcome on the following sub-topics:

  • Improving service quality and accessibility: successes and failures;
  • Managing citizen’s expectations for public services within society’s ability to deliver;
  • Exploiting theoretical advances in systems engineering, medicine, economics and public; management to improve service delivery;
  • Adapting service delivery reforms to local context;
  • Financing service quality and accessibility improvements;
  • Using monitoring and evaluation and feedback loops.

Proposals should be 300 to 500 words, and written in English. They should address some aspect of the conference theme as discussed above. They should include the research question(s), the methods being used, the value of the findings, and to whom they will be of use. Proposals should give the name, affiliation and contact information of the author(s). Final papers should normally be between 4000 and 8000 words, and will be due November 9. Final papers will be displayed on the conference website.

Proposals should be submitted to by May 31st to Professor Richard Walker by email at <> Proposal reviews will be completed by June 30th and notifications will be sent directly thereafter. If a proposal is accepted, the presenter will need to register for the conference in order to participate (see “registration” below). For paper presenters there will be no registration fee, and the organizers will cover accommodation costs for the nights of the 9th, 10th and 11th December. Participants will pay their own airfare. Other delegates will need to pay a registration fee (see below).

Program co-chairs:
Professor Richard M. Walker, City University of Hong Kong
Dr. Clay Wescott, President, International Public Management Network

Program committee:

Professor Steve Kelman, Harvard University
Professor Alexander Kotchegura, Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia
Professor Per Laegreid, University of Bergen
Professor Riccardo Mussari, University of Sienna
Professor Alasdair Roberts, Suffolk University Law School
Professor Nancy Roberts, Naval Post Graduate School
Professor Fred Thompson, Willamette University

Post-conference publication: Papers from the conference will be considered for publication in IMPN’s public management series in Emerald or Information Age Press.

In addition, all relevant conference papers may be submitted for consideration to the International Public Management Journal and International Public Management Review.

Language: English will be the official language of the conference. Abstracts, papers, and presentations are to be delivered in English.

Conference registration: Early registration for the conference will begin on July 1st 2014 and will continue until October 1st 2014. Regular registration will begin on October 2nd 2014 and will continue until November 9th 2014. There will also be on-site registration for the conference. Please see the table below for registration costs. Instructions for registering and hotel information will be posted shortly.

Registration Costs
Early registration (by October 1) US$350
Regular registration (by November 9) US$400
On-Site registration December 12-14 US$400
Paper presenter No charge

Conference schedule: An opening reception for all registrants will be held on the evening of 9th December. There will be a conference dinner on December 10th. Coffee and light lunches will be provided during the conference.