Building capable states in the Global South

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    Project Manager :
    Dominik ETIENNE

    This project examines the role of capable, committed and accountable states in delivering inclusive development, and the economic and political drivers of how such states emerge, especially in conflict affected and fragile environments.In recent years, there has been a revival of interest on the role of the state in economic development. The analysis of state capability, defined as the institutional capability of the state to carry out various policies that can bring about inclusive economic growth, as well as deliver benefits and services to households and firms, has emerged as the cutting edge of research on the relationship between governance, institutions and economic development. 

    The project addresses two core areas which have been under-researched. The first relates to issues of state ineffectiveness and institutional strengthening, including the development of more effective, capable, legitimate, and authoritative states. Conflict affected and fragile states were among those with the poorest record in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and attention has been devoted to them in the development of the SDGs. The challenge here has been to understand the conditions that allow sufficient political stability to be established so that economic growth can take place, and how institutions can be strengthened so that the growth process can become transformative over time.

    A second core area for future work concerns the pervasiveness of clientelism in developing countries, which have broader systemic consequences that undermine democracy and development in a variety of ways: by lowering public good provision, by increasing corruption, by leading to ineffective political competition and by reducing the accountability of elected officials. An essential feature of the development process is the transition from clientelistic to programmatic politics. However, the practice of clientelism has differed across developing countries, and there is limited knowledge on why clientelism has eroded in some developing country contexts and not in others. There is also a lack of evidence on the development consequences of clientelism, and what types of interventions may explain the move from clientelistic to programmatic politics.