Since 2012, IOB is organised as one research group.
In today’s globalised world, we conceive of development as a multi-level and multi-actor process. Development is a patchy process, pushed and pulled in different directions and unfolding in different time scales. Development policies are both part of this process and impacting on it. IOB studies the patchwork of actors and dynamics entangled in political processes in order to identify time and place bound opportunities for change towards a more just and sustainable development.
Within the broad field of the social sciences, the field of development studies has a unique contribution to make as a bridge between disciplines and methods. IOB cultivates multi-disciplinary work and mixed methods to gain a sufficiently accurate perspective in realities fraught with acute scarcity of reliable data on the one hand, and the urge to act on the other. The challenge of multi-disciplinary and mixed methods requires the different research lines within the group to be open and flexible in order to learn from and incorporate new developments in the social science disciplines.
One important area IOB definitely has an academic value added is the Great Lakes Region of Africa. Both historical contingency and conscious investment in the recent past have contributed to building up a unique knowledge base on this region. In terms of development perspectives, this region has much to learn from wider debates in development studies. Conversely, gaining contextual depth is one of the empirical strategies our institute has cultivated to engage in broader theoretical debates on development policy, actors and processes. We have done this also through institutional partnerships in the South, in the Great Lakes Region and elsewhere.
As development is both a multi-level and a multi-actor process, the research group cultivates four different research lines, platforms to discuss and present research activities; each of them zooms in on different levels (local, national, international), and, within the international level, on public and private actors.