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MERL Tech UK 2018 Lightning Talk

Dobility is excited to be speaking at the upcoming MERL Tech UK event in London, March 19th and 20th.  Here is a snapshot of one of our sessions: 

Economics teaches us to follow the combination of preferences and incentives to understand how a system works in practice, and often it boils down to following the money. When donors fund MERL Tech, the tech bends to suit them and their preferences; their money talks. When donors are hands-off and the tech is open-source, it leaves a lot of choice in the hands of developers; so suddenly it’s their preferences that matter. For vendors who fund tech based on user fees, incentives seem better aligned; users control the money, so they finally seem to matter.

But now, as the MERL Tech sector grows up, who are the users? If IT makes the decisions and controls the money, do vendors bend to serve them? What about program and field teams? If they no longer hold the purse strings or control adoption decisions, do their needs become less important?

Based on his experience and observations as both an economist and an active contributor to the MERL Tech space, Dr. Christopher Robert will share his views on who’s really in charge, as the MERL Tech landscape evolves.


To learn more about this session, or the upcoming conference, click here.  Can’t attend in person?  No problem.  Follow us on Twitter.  We’ll keep you up-to-date with the excellent panels, presentations, and the fun using #MERLTech.

Chris Robert


Chris is the founder of SurveyCTO. He now serves as Director and Founder Emeritus, supporting Dobility in a variety of part-time capacities. Over the course of Dobility’s first 10 years, he held several positions, including CEO, CTO, and Head of Product.

Before founding Dobility, he was involved in a long-term project to evaluate the impacts of microfinance in South India; developed online curriculum for a program to promote the use of evidence in policy-making in Pakistan and India; and taught statistics and policy analysis at the Harvard Kennedy School. Before that, he co-founded and helped grow an internet technology consultancy and led technology efforts for the top provider of software and hardware for multi-user bulletin board systems (the online systems most prominent before the Internet).