Looking Like a State: Techniques of Persistent Failure in State Capability for Implementation
In many nations today the state has little capability to carry out even basic functions like security, policing, regulation or core service delivery. Enhancing this capability, especially in fragile states, is a long-term task: countries like Haiti or Liberia will take many decades to reach even a moderate capability country like India, and millennia to reach the capability of Singapore. Short-term programmatic efforts to build administrative capability in these countries are thus unlikely to be able to demonstrate actual success, yet billions of dollars continue to be spent on such activities. What techniques enable states to ‘buy time’ to enable reforms to work, to mask non-accomplishment, or actively to resist or deflect the internal and external pressures for improvement? How do donor and recipient countries manage to engage in the logics of ‘development’ for so long and yet consistently acquire so little administrative capability? We document two such techniques: (a) systemic isomorphic mimicry, wherein the outward forms (appearances, structures) of functional states and organisations elsewhere are adopted to camouflage a persistent lack of function ; and (b) premature load bearing, in which indigenous learning, the legitimacy of change and the support of key political constituencies are undercut by the routine placement of highly unrealistic expectations on fledging systems. We conclude with some suggestions for sabotaging these techniques.
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Volume (Year): 49 (2013)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
|Contact details of provider:|| Web page: http://www.tandfonline.com/FJDS20|
|Order Information:||Web: http://www.tandfonline.com/pricing/journal/FJDS20|
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Lant Pritchett, Michael Woolcock, Matt Andrews, 2010. "Capability Traps? The Mechanisms of Persistent Implementation Failure - Working Paper 234," Working Papers 234, Center for Global Development.
- Andrews, Matt & Pritchett, Lant & Woolcock, Michael, 2012.
"Escaping Capability Traps through Problem-Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA),"
Working Paper Series
rwp12-036, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
- Andrews, Matt & Pritchett, Lant & Woolcock, Michael, 2013. "Escaping Capability Traps Through Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA)," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 234-244.
- Lant Pritchett & Matt Andrews & Michael Woolcock, 2012. "Escaping Capability Traps through Problem-Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA)," Working Papers 299, Center for Global Development.
- Andrews, Matt & Pritchett, Lant & Woolcock, Michael, 2012. "Escaping Capability Traps Through Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA)," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
- Pritchett, Lant & Andrews, Matthew R. & Woolcock, Michael J., 2012. "Escaping Capability Traps through Problem-Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA)," Scholarly Articles 9403175, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
- Matt Andrews, 2008. "The Good Governance Agenda: Beyond Indicators without Theory," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(4), pages 379-407.
- Nancy Birdsall & Ayah Mahgoub & William D. Savedoff, 2010. "Cash on Delivery: A New Approach to Foreign Aid," Working Papers id:3308, eSocialSciences.
- repec:unu:wpaper:wp2012-64 is not listed on IDEAS
- Daniel Adler & Caroline Sage & Michael Woolcock, 2009. "Interim Institutions and the Development Process: Opening Spaces for Reform in Cambodia and Indonesia," Brooks World Poverty Institute Working Paper Series 8609, BWPI, The University of Manchester.
- Pritchett, Lant & Woolcock, Michael, 2004. "Solutions When the Solution is the Problem: Arraying the Disarray in Development," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 191-212, February.
- World Bank, 2011. "World Development Report 2011," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 4389, June.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:taf:jdevst:v:49:y:2013:i:1:p:1-18. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Michael McNulty)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.