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Researcher of the Month; Economist Dr. Robert Mudida – Constitutions' Impact to Society

  Oct 8, 2015
 

Passionate about economics and contributing to the growth of the society, Senior Lecturer and Academic Director-Institute for Public Policy and Governance Dr. Robert Mudida has worked at different projects to facilitate this change. Coupled with the support of his family and the Strathmore community, Dr. Mudida’s aspirations are set to lift the society to greater heights.

Background

I lecture under the Institute for Public Policy and Governance in Strathmore Business School in the areas of Masters in Policy and Management, Executive programs in Public Policy and occasionally in the MBA. I focus on Economics, Public Policy, and Negotiations.

I have obtained degrees in both Economics and International Studies. I drew interest in Economics when I was doing my A-level, and as a result I picked the course for my university degree. Once I started studying economics I realized I needed to broaden my knowledge in various fields to contribute to my insights in Economics. Consequently I chose to be versatile and have an inter-disciplinary of the reality, including economic realities, which drew me to study a Masters in International Studies to gain richer inter-disciplinary perspectives. During this period I was fortunate to get by first job.

On completion of this masters, I chose to study a second masters in Economics from University of London- which I studied online. I then took up doctoral research where I obtained a PHD in International Studies, specializing in International Political Economy.

During my study period I worked at both the Embassy of Chile and the Embassy of Spain in the commercial sections while teaching evening classes at the University of Nairobi; I secured a full time job there in 2004. I did not hesitate to take up the teaching job as I developed a lot of satisfaction in teaching. I worked for six years while undertaking my PhD before completing the course in 2008. Two years later I joined Strathmore University in 2010 where I have worked full time for the last five years.
I am married and we have four adorable children; three boys and one girl.

PhD Research

My research topic was; Constitutional Conflicts in Kenya- Applying Theories from conflicts and International Political Economy to understand the constitutional review process in Kenya.

I worked at developing structural theories that try to explain the phenomena in society with reference to understanding structures in society. I discovered anomalies in the societal structures that generate conflict. This is an area that had not been researched on before.

I chose to work on the constitution because it was a major issue in Kenya at the time. Kenyans were heavily relying on the new constitution to bring changes in a lot of areas, an ambitious desire, but one that needed to be effective. I was also keen on researching structural theories of international political economy.
Findings;

The need for a new constitution in Kenya was driven by deep rooted economic, social and political problems. My research supported the idea that we need a peaceful overhaul constitution in Kenya to cater for the deep rooted issues in the society that needed to be addressed. My perspective helped to identify who the key persons that influence the constitution were and the key issues faced with the constitution, consequently enabling me to analyze the structure.

The issues found included;

Process issues drawn from the fact that we did not have a credible process for changing the constitution – It was a top to down process where executives and the elite in the country wanted to control the process, interfering with providing deep rooted changes to the constitution. Eventually through a lot of agitation through civil society, the church and the public at large we developed a more inclusive constitution. We had a long series of conferences that helped us get a more in-depth constitution. The last process in 2010 was found to be more credible.

content issues in relation to key issues to be addressed; one of the major issue was devolution and the other de-concentration of power in executive branches – which made other branches of the government not to be independent. It was a key structural issue. Issue of devolution concentrated on marginalized regions – this system would guarantee resources of each region regardless of their political alliances.
Issues of land inequality, public finance, and gender representations were also issues that needed to be addressed.

I worked on a framework that gave a structural political, economic, and conflict theory perspective to the whole debate. I published a book on the basis of this thesis: Structural Sources of Constitutional Conflicts in Kenya published by Scholars press, and is available on Amazon. This is the only book with the economic unique structural perspective.

My PhD supervisors were Prof. Peter Wanyande from CIC and Prof. Makumi Mwagiro from then University of Nairobi, but he is now based at Catholic University.

Benefits of the PhD Research

The ideas I generated are relevant now as we continue to implement the constitution, we always need to go back to the critical issues to help understand the process better. The research aided with creating an understanding of the process much better and the dynamics, especially in a set-up that has vested interests from the elite and the political influencers interested in keeping things the way they were before. This is an issue seen in many developing countries not just Kenya.

My work was also a contribution to the institutional literature from the political economy point of view. How institutions influence economic prosperity.
Challenges faced when carrying out this Research

Balancing work, study, and managing a new family as I was a newlywed. Fortunately the subjects I took for teaching and the free time I got at the university helped me to manage my studies.I also faced some challenges with the supervisors as they are very busy; sometimes when I had momentum the supervisor was busy, and vice versa. I had to learn to balance.

Consequently I completed my PhD in 2008; the average time for a PhD at the University of Nairobi is 10years, so I did well.

What motivates you to achieve success generally?

The desire to make a contribution to the society through academic work and research.Secondly I draw a lot of motivation from my family whom I try to ensure that they do well not only materially, but through value by spending quality time with them.
Future Plans

I plan on continuing to follow my passion that involves contributing to the society. I want to make a difference in at least one county in Kenya; I am currently working on a project that I hope will impact Turkana County.

Professionally in the next 10 years I desire to be a full professor and publish a few articles on institutional transformation.

Lastly to raise happy fulfilled children and give more time to my family. I always work at influencing their spiritual journey, we are practicing Catholics. I also enjoy travelling around the world with them, every year we pick a destination to visit. This makes them happy.
Advise to aspiring PhD students

Concentrate in an area you are passionate about. It’s not easy to maintain the momentum if you are not into the research area fully. Align your PhD with your passion.

Work on your dissertation every day and try and be as rigorous as possible – go as deep as you can.



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