USO Archives


Causation in the world of policy

Posted on September 9, 2012  /  0 Comments

Establishing causal relationships is tough in social science, a field defined by open systems and knowledgeable agents. It is extremely difficult with regard to policy actions and outcomes. In 1998-99 when I was the public face of telecom reform in Sri Lanka, I used to get lots of invitations to speak at business events. In these talks I had to maintain a delicate balance, between giving the then government and its predecessor the right amount of credit for the incredible outcomes that were becoming visible. The government in power had been in place for four years and had partially privatized the incumbent operator and given its management to a Japanese investor, among other things.
Large corporations engage in acts of Corporate Social Responsibility.  Non-profit organizations like ours sometimes engage in acts of Social Corporate Responsibility.   SCR differs from CSR because the beneficiary here is a corporation.  We recognize that large corporations can affect the course of events in countries and in some cases, the world.   Therefore, when a large corporation with massive resources asked us to help educate their senior managers (especially those in charge of CSR) about key issues in telecom, we agreed.