Research Focus

The Research of the Development Research Division of the Centre can be devided into two groups. The first refers to the research work that is implicitly or explicitly supported by DRD-funds. The second comprises research without such funding.


(1) Research supported by DRD

In all of the academic programmes of DRD it is expected that Master- and PhD-students undertake theory based empirical research on real-world development problems in Sub-Sahara Africa. The research work includes a literature survey on the topic chosen, the preparation of an empirical research design, the collection of data in the frame of a field research – field research period for Master-students: three to four months, for PhD-students: 6 to 9 months. At the time of reporting 44 DRD-supported Master-students have already finalized their research work, 22 more are in the research process at present as well as the 16 PhD-students who are funded from the DRD budget. So, from the very beginning of their studies graduates and doctoral candidates are actively encouraged to participate in DRD's research work. Additional motivation is provided to the students through DRD's writing school, an eight-week workshop series, set and provided by the DAAD Lecturer Iris Vernekohl, which started in September 2011, and which will continue on a regular basis in the following years. This joint workshop series, which is open to DAAD scholars from both divisions, has been explicitly designed to optimally prepare and support the centre´s scholarship holders to succeed not only in writing publishable research articles but, specifically so, in getting published both in national, regional but also in international refereed and accredited journals in the field of development and public policy management alike. This is why the participants of the workshop do not only get acquainted with strategies to improve and polish their journal article writing skills but why they also gain in-depth insights into the peculiarities of the working mechanisms of the international academic journal publication market in addition to developing strategies and skills to possibly collaborate with other researchers/authors, select an appropriate journal, and to manage the many hurdles involved in the submission and referee process. After successful completion of the course, the students will get a certificate and are expected to contribute their work to the SAGEDRCJ working paper series.

In terms of topics the research work of the 82 Master- and PhD-students follow the core research areas of DRD. Table 1 provides an overview. 72 of the 82 academic thesis that are/were produced in the frame of DRD starting in 2008 contribute to the core research areas of IEE, SoG and ISD and will help to develop DRD's research profile. Due to the empirical orientation of research DRD can fast accumulate regional expertise as the division's research already cover projects in 14 countries, whereas DRD's empirical research is concentrated in six countries, which are South Africa, Ethiopia, Ghana, Uganda and the DRD partner countries Malawi and Zimbabwe.


Table 1: DRD’s core research areas and involved students

DRD's core research areas Involved Master- and PhD-students
Social policies for reducing poverty: Income grants and social insurance schemes (ISD) 3M+2PhD
Health studies: Improving health sector's effectiveness; infectious diseases' impacts on productivity and poverty (SoG and IEE) 13M+2PhD
Fostering communities participation in shaping development: Frameworks for empowerment and impacts on the effectiveness of development interventions (SoG) 8M
Providing finance, education, infrastructure, and technology: Rigorous assessment of impacts on income and expenditures, welfare and poverty (IEE and ISD) 20M+1PhD
Use of water, land, and environment including resource conflicts (ISD and IEE) 2M+3PhD
Public sector reform: Frameworks for and effects of (fiscal) decentralization, new public management and anti-corruption measures (SoG) 7M+3PhD
Democratization and the role of political parties (SoG) 2M+1PhD
Trade, migration, ODA and economic growth (IEE) 3M+2PhD


(2) Other research

ACCEDE: Two staff members of the ISD are registered with ACCEDE and participating in research projects run by the centre as part of their PhD thesis.

Oxford University: Recently, ISD and Oxford University-Centre for the Analysis of South African Social Policy (CASASP) undertook a collaborative research on "The Programme to Support Pro-Poor Policy Development (PSPPD) in South Africa". The proposed collaborative research project is financed by collaboration between the office of the Presidency, SA and the EU. It is a project that intend at enabling important decision makers to advance their capacity to design policies, as well as more efficiently target future intervention areas within their scope of work. The PSPPD is a complementary programme to the National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS) in SA panel. As part of the collaborative programme ISD and CASASP have given a task to develop the NIDS dataset that will be used to further build the evidence-base in social science research using a micro-simulation model.

Department of Economics and Presidency of South Africa: ISD is undertaking research into the main causes of underperforming schools in the Western Cape in collaboration with the Department of Economics at UWC. This research project was one of 11 chosen from a total of 59 submissions. The study forms part of a pro poor policy initiative located in the Presidency of South Africa. The research is funded by the European Union. The pre empirical phase started in October 2009 and the duration terminates December 2010. The research will afford a number of academics and Masters Students the opportunity to become part of a strategically important and topical research initiative.

DRD-related research at IEE: Financially supported by the Tokyo Foundation's SYLFF-programme IEE members are doing research on stigmatization of people living with HIV/AIDS (Stefan Buchholz) and on Xenophopia (Jens Blank) in South Africa. Further HIV/AIDS-related research is done by Wilhelm Löwenstein/Beneberu Assefa Wondimagnegnhu on effects the disease brings about on income and poverty of poor rural farming households in Ethiopia. Martina Lembani in her PhD thesis is looking for cost effectiveness of ART in Malawi. Britta Niklas is involved in a research group that is doing an investigation of South African 'black economic empowerment (BEE) wines'. The group is interested to see whether wine consumers (in South Africa and Europe) are willing to pay higher prices for wines produced by BEE-supported wine farmers. Mathias Busse, together with colleagues from RUB and from outside is/was doing research on Characteristics and Determinants of FDI in Ghana, on the Growth Performance of Sub-Saharan African Countries and on Trade, Labour Market Regulations, and Growth, whereas Dieter Bender and Wilhelm Löwenstein concentrated on the potentially immiserizing effects of financing development from international credits.

Latest News

For South African Students the National Research Foundation (NRF) in partnership with the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) offers In-country Masters and Doctoral scholarships for postgraduate studies at South African Universities.

South African applicants for Master and PhD studies at the South African - German Centre for Development Research are encouraged to apply for such a scholarship parallel to their application at CDR.

For more information please have a look here.

The deadline for joint DAAD/NRF scholarships is already 28 July 2017.

Our PhD Student Davison Muchadenyika again published a paper which is titled: Politics and the practice of planning: The case of Zimbabwean cities. It can be accessed here.