This document draws on the 'Upside-down' synthesis report and presents the key policy messages in a summarised form. Based on a ten year programme of DFID-funded research by the Centre for the Future State, the central message is that achieving better governance is not a precondition for development but an integral part of the development process. States and societies help to build each other. Bargaining between the state and society – between people who hold political/military power and organised social groups – is fundamental to achieving progressive change: more peaceful resolution of conflict, more productive investment of resources, and more inclusive public goods. Understanding how these domestic political processes play out in a particular country context, and how they are influenced by external interventions, is key to improving the effectiveness of aid-funded development efforts. Instead of top-down programmes to impose Western institutional models and best practice, donors should focus more on local capacity and local political processes, and look for ways of building on them.
Societies, States and Citizens. A policymaker’s guide to the research.