How can developing countries build more effective, accountable states that are responsive to the needs of poor people? There is widespread agreement that better governance matters for growth and poverty reduction, but little consensus on how to achieve it. New research by the Centre for the Future State shows how effective public institutions evolve through a political process of bargaining between the state and organised groups in society. They cannot be constructed just by transferring institutional models from rich to poor countries. Policymakers should focus less on formal public institutions, and more on the informal arrangements and relationships that underpin them. By doing so they might be better able to identify and capitalise on opportunities for progressive change.
IDS Policy Briefing Issue 26, Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies, 4 pp.