ISS resources have been mentioned in multiple types of media, including Harvard professor Matt Andrews’ recent book The Limits of Institutional Reform in Development, Columbia University professor Chris Blattman’s widely read blog, reports published by the World Bank and USAID, and numerous articles in newspapers and magazines, including ForeignPolicy.com and Slate.
ISS collects feedback on its materials. Public sector leaders, professors, advisers, students, journalists, and others report that ISS materials have been an invaluable resource. A sampling of testimonials follows; many are taken from private email exchanges so identifying information has been omitted.
From high-level government officials:
- “Have just read the study and would like to commend you on its depth and accuracy. I will share it widely.”
- “It’s the clearest and most accurate summary I’ve seen yet.”
- “I've found a fascinating oral history account of a member of that Commission [of Provincial Government, in South Africa], done by Princeton’s Innovations for Successful Societies Oral History Project. I personally found it fascinating … how finance and the mechanics of administration garnered the least attention then and what it meant for the subsequent unfolding of the intergovernmental system…"
- “Definitely it will be good for our international recognition. …The article and the case study are excellent.”
- “Your stuff is fantastic. South Africa has ‘heritage month’ now and I’m using your draft material on Palermo as the grounding for an op-ed on rejuvenating our heritage. I also had to brief our security spokesperson on crime fighting in Italy, and your material was an excellent source.”
- “Your center is important because—as I preach all the time—the world is full of people who are prepared to argue for this size government or that size government. The philosophy and fiscal reality, fine, but at some point a given polity decides and now the question that nobody seems to want to talk about is how the hell do you make it work right?… That’s the hard thing. That’s why your work is important.
From university professors:
- “What I like about the [ISS] materials is that they don't just present a ‘best practice’ idea or heroic story of success. They provide enough information to enable readers in theorizing about these practices and innovations. …We need more of what ISS is providing: materials to help theorize what makes a best or innovative practice best or innovative and to assist us in thinking about whether these practices fit into new contexts…” (Harvard professor)
- “I finally had the chance to read the impressive case studies produced by the Innovations for Successful Societies program -- thank you so much… Some of the case studies have been incorporated into the syllabus of my seminar … [ISS’s] online database will also be a wonderful resource to recommend to students as they conduct independent research.” (Princeton professor)
- “Let me congratulate you again on doing what you are doing and sharing it free of charge with the wider community! I teach about the importance of local knowledge vs. imposed knowledge and your project is such an excellent repository of local knowledge.” (University of Delaware professor)
From graduate students
- “As a graduate student at the Woodrow Wilson School, I had the opportunity to intern with the Civil Service Agency of the Government of Liberia. The interviews and profiles that ISS conducted on Liberia were an invaluable resource for me. ISS’s publications on civil service reform allowed me to gain familiarity with the projects, issues, and challenges I would encounter even before I arrived in the country. In fact, my primary supervisor turned out to be one of the officials whose interview I had read!”
- “I defended my PhD—it went extremely well—and used a lot ISS Princeton work on Sierra Leone, especially the interviews. … I would really like to congratulate you for the excellent job you’ve done and thank you for the help you provided me in my own research, thanks to the quality of your work. I really think that this idea of publishing interviews the way ISS does—with both transcripts and MP3s in such an easy-to-access website—is just brilliant.”
From current and former high-level World Bank officials
- “[I] spent the afternoon pouring over the case studies from Rwanda, Liberia, and Indiana … as I was helping someone in the Ministry of Planning of Somaliland draft a memo to its president on how to build the government. The [ISS] papers couldn’t have been more useful.”
- “The paper is excellent and will be very useful to those taking over leadership positions in anticorruption agencies. Congrats.”
- “Many thanks for sharing these cases…, which are excellent examples of how talented leadership and perseverance can result in some truly impressive improvements in service delivery that are entirely home grown. They will make an excellent addition to the MENA Governance case studies book. … I have taken the liberty of circulating this case to a number of other colleagues both within and outside of the Bank so that they are aware of it.”
- “The Slovenia study is the best yet, both because of the facts and how well you tell it.”
From research initiatives and think tanks
- “Your cases have been very interesting to us and the work is unique – hard to find info about these situations/organizations. … I look forward to your upcoming cases.”
- “The work done by academic research programs like ISS is invaluable in collating governance and institutional lessons within a systematic framework. It can help promote what we need more of: cross-fertilization and sharing of ideas across the boundaries of our different disciplines…”
- “You’ve been prolific as ever. … And [ISS’s] case study on Mongolia’s public administration reforms has been incredibly useful for our most recent case study on post-primary education in that country. Keep them coming!”
From leaders in international development organizations
- "I came across the Innovations for Successful Societies website in our preparations for a regional conference on citizen engagement in security sector reform in West Africa. It is a great resource and we will be highlighting some of the interviews for participants in the run up to the event.”
- “As a development practitioner working in Eastern and Southern Africa, I recognize all too well the allure and risks of adopting good practices from other countries. The [ISS] case studies offer a clear and fresh departure from these short-sighted frameworks. It elevates the discussion about what works—and what doesn’t work—in development taking into account capabilities of domestic actors, pace of economic development, absorption capacity and, of course, historical context. It’s a pleasure—and great learning experience—to read these materials. It’s also inspiring to see the breadth of public managers exercising leadership amidst adverse conditions. Thanks for sharing and excellent job!”