Escaping Capability Traps through Problem-Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA)
Many reform initiatives in developing countries fail to achieve sustained improvements in performance because they are merely isomorphic mimicry--that is, governments and organizations pretend to reform by changing what policies or organizations look like rather than what they actually do. In addition, the flow of development resources and legitimacy without demonstrated improvements in performance undermines the impetus for effective action to build state capability or improve performance. This dynamic facilitates "capability traps" in which state capability stagnates, or even deteriorates, over long periods of time even though governments remain engaged in developmental rhetoric and continue to receive development resources. How can countries escape capability traps? We propose an approach, Problem-Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA), based on four core principles, each of which stands in sharp contrast with the standard approaches. First, PDIA focuses on solving locally nominated and defined problems in performance (as opposed to transplanting preconceived and packaged "best practice" solutions). Second, it seeks to create an authorizing environment for decision-making that encourages positive deviance and experimentation (as opposed to designing projects and programs and then requiring agents to implement them exactly as designed). Third, it embeds this experimentation in tight feedback loops that facilitate rapid experiential learning (as opposed to enduring long lag times in learning from ex post "evaluation"). Fourth, it actively engages broad sets of agents to ensure that reforms are viable, legitimate, relevant, and supportable (as opposed to a narrow set of external experts promoting the top-down diffusion of innovation).
|Date of creation:||Aug 2012|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: 79 JFK Street, Cambridge, MA 02138|
Web page: http://www.ksg.harvard.edu/research/working_papers/index.htm
More information through EDIRC
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.:
- Mukand, Sharun W. & Rodrik, Dani, 2002.
"In Search of the Holy Grail: Policy Convergence, Experimentation and Economic Performance,"
CEPR Discussion Papers
3525, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Sharun W. Mukand & Dani Rodrik, 2005. "In Search of the Holy Grail: Policy Convergence, Experimentation, and Economic Performance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 374-383, March.
- Mukand, Sharun & Rodrik, Dani, 2002. "In Search of the Holy Grail: Policy Convergence, Experimentation and Economic Performance," Working Paper Series rwp02-027, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
- Sharun Mukand & Dani Rodrik, 2002. "In Search of the Holy Grail: Policy Convergence, Experimentation, and Economic Performance," NBER Working Papers 9134, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Denizer, Cevdet & Kaufmann, Daniel & Kraay, Aart, 2011.
"Good countries or good projects ? macro and micro correlates of World Bank project performance,"
Policy Research Working Paper Series
5646, The World Bank.
- Denizer, Cevdet & Kaufmann, Daniel & Kraay, Aart, 2013. "Good countries or good projects? Macro and micro correlates of World Bank project performance," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 288-302.
- Ostrom, Elinor, 2005.
"Unlocking Public Entrepreneurship and Public Economies,"
Working Paper Series
DP2005/01, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
- Elinor Ostrom, 2010. "Unlocking Public Entrepreneurship and Public Economies," Working Papers id:2580, eSocialSciences.
- Dani Rodrik, 2008.
NBER Working Papers
14050, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- 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.
- Nancy Birdsall & Ayah Mahgoub & William D. Savedoff, 2010. "Cash on Delivery: A New Approach to Foreign Aid," Working Papers id:3308, eSocialSciences.
- Andrews,Matt, 2013. "The Limits of Institutional Reform in Development," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9781107016330, November.
- Kim S. Cameron, 1986. "Effectiveness as Paradox: Consensus and Conflict in Conceptions of Organizational Effectiveness," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 32(5), pages 539-553, May.
- Andrews, Matt & Pritchett, Lant & Woolcock, Michael, 2012.
"Looking Like a State : Techniques of Persistent Failure in State Capability for Implementation,"
Working Paper Series
UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
- Lant Pritchett & Michael Woolcock & Matt Andrews, 2013. "Looking Like a State: Techniques of Persistent Failure in State Capability for Implementation," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 49(1), pages 1-18, January.
- Mair, Johanna & Marti, Ignasi, 2009. "Entrepreneurship in and around institutional voids: A case study from Bangladesh," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 24(5), pages 419-435, September.
- 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.
- 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.
- Levy, Brian & Fukuyama, Francis, 2010. "Development strategies : integrating governance and growth," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5196, The World Bank.
- Whittle, Andrea & Suhomlinova, Olga & Mueller, Frank, 2011. "Dialogue and distributed agency in institutional transmission," Journal of Management & Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 17(04), pages 548-569, July.
- Garud, Raghu & Karnoe, Peter, 2003. "Bricolage versus breakthrough: distributed and embedded agency in technology entrepreneurship," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 277-300, February.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp12-036. 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: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.