In foreign aid, Planners announce good intentions but don't motivate anyone to carry them out; Searchers find things that work and get some reward. Planners raise expectations but take no responsibility for meeting them; Searchers accept responsibility for their actions. Planners determine what to supply; Searchers find out what is in demand... A planner believes outsiders know enough to impose solutions. A Searcher believes only insiders have enough knowledge to find solutions, and that most solutions must be homegrown.
And Todd Moss, at the Center for Global Development, distinguishes between Digging Holes versus Capital Flows:
For a 'hole digger,' development is about delivering more services, executing projects, managing logistics, and imparting knowledge. The "capital flows" viewpoint is that promoting development is about getting the environment right so that people do things naturally. This view of the world thus scrutinizes policies, incentives, available resources, and institutions and how they interact with the global economy.
Moss gives credit to both sides for their contributions to development, but Easterly is much more pro-Searcher (same team as Capital Flows). One example he gives of successful searching is PSI's (Population Services International) 2005 implementation strategy of antimalarial insecticide-treated bed nets. A bit of background: net distribution hasn't always been successful in preventing malaria because many people receiving free nets don't sleep under them. Easterly says:
PSI sells bed nets for fifty cents to mothers through antenatal clinics in the countryside, which means it gets the nets to those who both value them and need them... PSI also sells nets to richer urban Malawians through private-sector channels for five dollars a net. The profits from this are used to pay for the subsidized nets sold at the clinics, so the program pays for itself. A follow-up survey found nearly universal use of the nets by those who paid for them.
However, a more recent study by Pascaline Dupas and Jessica Cohen in QJE actually tested the usage of bed nets when given away for free versus sold (cost-sharing).
We ﬁnd that uptake drops by sixty percentage points when the price of ITNs increases from zero to $0.60... Overall, our results suggest that free distribution of ITNs (antimalarial insecticide-treated bed nets) could save many more lives than cost-sharing programs have achieved so far, and, given the large positive externality associated with widespread usage of ITNs, would likely do so at a lesser cost per life saved.
While Easterly's example of Searchers focused on demand-based development solutions is innovative, it looks like the results don't hold up empirically.
Anecdotal note: According to a friend who worked for PSI in 2009, the organization no longer sells bed nets. They give them out for free.