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Working with the Grain: Integrating Governance and Growth in Development Strategies


  • Levy, Brian

    (School of Advanced International Studies, John Hopkins University, Washington, DC, and Adjunct Professor, School of Economics, University of Cape Town)


This book builds on cutting-edge scholarship and the author's quarter century of hands-on experience at the World Bank to lay out an innovative with-the-grain approach to integrating governance and growth---as a constructive, hopeful way of engaging the challenging governance ambiguities of our early 21st century world. A 'with the grain' perspective directs attention away from a 'good governance' pre-occupation with off-the-shelf blueprints and optimal policies, and towards the challenges of initiating and sustaining forward development momentum. This altered angle of vision has powerful implications for how we understand and address the challenges of governance reform and development policymaking---both across countries and over time. The book distinguishes among four broad groups of countries- according to whether their policies are dominant or competitive, and whether their institutions are personalized or impersonal. It also distinguishes among alternative options for governance reform---'top down' options which aim to strengthen formal institutions, and options which aim to support the emergence of 'islands of effectiveness'. And it explores the 'goodness of fit' between alternative reform options and divergent country contexts---including how narrowly-focused initiatives can achieve results even in a broader sea of institutional dysfunction. The book examines how, over time, virtuous circles can link inclusive growth, positive expectations and ongoing institutional improvement. Taking the decade-or-so time horizon of practitioners, the aim is to nudge things along---seeking gains that initially may seem quite modest but can, sometimes, give rise to a cascading sequence of change for the better. Sometimes the binding constraint to forward movement can be institutional, making governance reform the priority; at other times, the priority can better be on inclusive growth. Over the longer-run, stability depends also on a broad-based commitment among citizens to the institutional order, as one which offers the hope of a better life for all. Available in OSO:

Suggested Citation

  • Levy, Brian, 2014. "Working with the Grain: Integrating Governance and Growth in Development Strategies," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199363810.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxp:obooks:9780199363810

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