Development with Dignity

Tom G Palmer

By Tom G. Palmer

Executive Vice President for International Programs

Matt and Tom book
At a time when the global development industry is under more pressure than ever before, this book argues that an end to poverty can only be achieved by prioritizing human dignity.

Unable to adequately account for the roles of culture, context, and local institutions, today’s outsider-led development interventions continue to leave a trail of unintended consequences, ranging from wasteful to even harmful. This book shows that increased prosperity can only be achieved when people are valued as self-governing agents. Social orders that recognize autonomy and human dignity unleash enormous productive energy. This in turn leads to the mobilization of knowledge sharing that is critical to innovation and localized problem solving.


Offering a wide range of interdisciplinary perspectives and specific examples from the field showing these ideas in action, this book provides NGOs, multilateral institutions and donor countries with practical guidelines for implementing “dignity-first” development.

Compelling and engaging, with a wide range of recommendations for reforming development practice and supporting liberal democracy, this book will be an essential read for students and practitioners of international development.

“Read this book and you will be introduced to new perspectives on the power of local knowledge—rooted in human experience—to fuel sustainable development and to generate the socio-economic wealth of nations.”

- Vernon L. Smith, Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences