This report presents the results of a case study of absorptive capacity in the security and justice sectors. This study was organized using the Measuring Absorptive Capacity (MAC) framework developed by the authors and introduced in the first volume of the CSIS Managing Absorptive Capacity series. The MAC framework was built to test the possibility that the capacity to absorb foreign aid might not be simply a function of the recipient’s implementation capacity or the amount of aid offered. Rather, absorptive capacity might depend at least in part on the design and intent of the intervention itself, which in turn might be a function of the donor's capacity to account for local conditions.
To test this hypothesis - that absorptive capacity is determined by the donor-recipient relationship rather than by recipient capabilities alone - the authors studied four cases of security and justice programs that had been completed, evaluated, and found to be at least partly unsuccessful, in the sense that not all of its objectives were achieved:
- Lebanon: the police training program supported by U.S. Department of State’s Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) from 2008 to 2011;
- Cambodia: the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Program on Rights and Justice (PRAJ) from 2003 to 2008;
- Colombia: the Judicial Conflict Resolution Improvement Program supported by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank) from 2001 to 2006; and
- Afghanistan: the police training program supported by INL, the U.S. Department of Defense, and NATO from 2004 to 2010.
For each case, the MAC framework was used to collect information about the program's objectives, its design, the assumptions (called \"prerequisites\") on which the success of the program's design was based, the actual outcomes including the obstacles to success that had been identified, and the delivery capacity of the donors. The authors determined whether the obstacles to success - called missing prerequisites - were associated primarily with the recipient's technical implementation capacity, with the recipient's political economy, or with the donor's delivery capacity.
Lamb, R. D.; Mixon, K.; Halterman, A. Absorptive capacity in the security and justice sectors. Assessing obstacles to success in the donor-recipient relationship. Managing absorptive capacity, Vol. 2. Pre-publication draft. Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Washington DC, USA (2013) 76 pp.