Following analysis of over 430 institutions, we have developed a new typology of diaspora engagement institutions. This classification can be used to understand the history of institutionalisation and the institutional make-up of countries and regions. It is a resource to see the big picture as well as identify potential partners or peers.
Exploring the role of homeland governments and supporting institutional performance in diaspora engagement have been key priorities of EUDiF since day one. The typology of diaspora engagement institutions has been built using the 110-country global mapping on diaspora engagement (2020-2022) which identified 439 central government institutions working on diaspora engagement. This directory was supplemented by desk research as well as findings from EUDiF’s dialogue and capacity development activities leading to nine types of diaspora institution and eight sectors of engagement.
To celebrate the publication of the typology, Fanny Tittel-Mosser, EUDiF’s research and knowledge management officer and author of the typology answered a few questions about what we can learn from the typology and how to use it…
What is a typology?
FTM: A typology is a fancy word for a classification. When we look at diaspora engagement institutions (the government-linked institutions that deal with diaspora engagement matters) we can see that they are very diverse and that they take forms that go beyond the ministry of foreign affairs or a diaspora office. Worldwide, hundreds of institutions are involved in diaspora engagement and many countries have built their approach using a combination of institution types. This really shows that there is no one way to deal with diaspora engagement and learning about the different options can be useful for partner countries.
How can it be useful to diaspora engagement practitioners?
This typology has several uses. It is an entry point to the topic of institutionalisation of diaspora engagement, giving an overview of its evolution as well as the main types of institutions and services provided globally. It is a resource for government stakeholders who can learn from different combinations of institutions or zoom in on specific sectors of intervention. With the typology you can explore a multitude of institutional combinations and see that there is no one configuration to foster diaspora engagement, in fact it shows that there are many options to learn from, test and tailor to the context in question.
Recently, when designing a peer exchange with the government of Guyana, we used the typology to help select relevant peers in the region – read more – similarly for work with Peru and in forthcoming research.
From your research, why do you think a country decides to go for one type or combination of institutions rather than another?
A myriad of factors influences the decision to create a particular institution. Such factors relate to the history of the country, the policy approach to diaspora engagement, the level of priority given to diaspora engagement, the level of decentralisation, the existence of services and programmes for the diaspora, the resources available, as well as the level of trust and connection with the diaspora, in addition to factors linked to the diaspora itself, such as its size.
Having a dedicated diaspora engagement institution is not always a guarantee of successful engagement. What do you think are the key factors that should be put in place for successful engagement?
I believe that the following three elements are indispensable to successful engagement:
- A favourable overall enabling environment: This includes the political and regulatory environment, the recognition of the potential of the diaspora as an actor, the provision of civic and political rights to nationals abroad, the perception of the diaspora by the local population, other socio-economic considerations, access to information, and – above all – trust.
- Institutions have a clear mandate and implementation capacity: Governments should remain mindful to develop institutions only once they have a clear vision of the services they wish to provide, and the means to do so.
- Inter-institution coherence and coordination: By enhancing diaspora institution coherence and coordination, countries of heritage can optimise their resources and provide a clearer picture of “who’s who” for the diaspora and help enhance communication and access to services.
The typology of diaspora institutions is available in two formats: a detailed report including definitions and examples of each institution type, as well as the eight sectors of engagement; and an abridged online version with interactive data visualisation which allows you to see how each region and country has institutionalised over time, as well as view the global and regional instutional profile.
If you have any feedback or questions on the typology and data-set behind it, email firstname.lastname@example.org