The Political Approach to Institutional Formation, Maintenance and Change: A Literature Review Essay
Author: Adrian Leftwich
Size: 44 pages (424 KB)
Donors are sensitive to political issues and therefore reluctant to bring politics into policy debate. Economists have dominated policy-making and political scientists have until recently been more concerned with macro issues as opposed to institutions. There has been relatively little research to date on the application of institutional theory to the politics of growth and development in developing countries. However, there are strong arguments and evidence that political factors determine state and institutional behaviour, and therefore development and pro-poor outcomes.
Application of a political science lens to institutional analysis shows that effective states cannot be made to order. More recent developmental states (Botswana, Japan, Malaysia, Mauritius, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand) show that building the institutions that constitute an effective state is a political rather than a technical exercise. Key factors in the formation of pro-growth state institutions in these countries were:
Political processes shape both policy goals and the institutional means for gaining them. Recreating the historical conditions that helped the more successful developmental states establish institutions that drove generally equitable growth is not possible today. The external threats that galvanised elites and created one powerful incentive for ‘state-directed’ development are not common. Domestic demand for reform in developing countries therefore needs to be strong enough to establish the institutions which will promote pro-poor growth and to ensure compliance. Institutional analysis can accommodate both political and economic analysis of pro-poor growth. However more research is needed on the origins, forms, and effectiveness of domestic demand in analysing:
Leftwich, A., 2007, 'The Political Approach to Institutional Formation, Maintenance and Change: A Literature Review Essay', Research Consortium on Improving Institutions for Pro-Poor Growth, Manchester
Author: Research Consortium on Improving Institutions for Pro-Poor Growth, http://www.ippg.org.uk/index.html