Development finance as a discipline

I stumbled over this interesting article in Development Southern Africa. Its authors, Dobbin and Lloyd explore whether development finance should be treated as an emerging, separate discipline in academia. An engaging read, even if inconclusive.

Terms such as “development(al) finance”, “financial sector development” and “socially responsible investment” are often used interchangeably, so why should development finance be regarded as a discipline (as opposed to a “subject”, the article explains the semantics)?

Could it not be under the umbrella of existing and accepted disciplines such as development economics or development studies? After all, development finance issues aren’t new and have been researched in these disciplines before.

If development finance is merely “cross-disciplinary”, that would mean that it explains the theories and knowledge of one discipline in terms of the other. That would mean it better remain a “subject”.

Based on a survey of South African development finance practitioners, the authors arrive at a working definition of development finance, i.e. “the field of study or branch of knowledge concerned with the manner in which finance influences the processes and objectives of development.”

It is expressly not synonymous with “socially responsible investment”. Practitioners should ideally possess a specific development finance qualification–also at undergraduate level. (Incidentally, the only Bachelors degree my quick Google search identified was in Nepal.)

In South Africa, it appears that only the University of Stellenbosch has a Master’s degree in development finance, which looks good from what I can tell.  There are various universities in the UK where one can study Development Finance, primarily at Manchester (where I applied many years ago to do my Master’s) and Reading.

It would be helpful to do a proper analysis of the various programs out there and understand what courses are being offered as part of the curriculum. Reading has a core development finance class in their curriculum, and it would be interesting to see the syllabus how development finance is thematized.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *