IS Academy Lecture: From maladjusted states to developmental states

Seminar date: 
22 April 2008
Speaker(s): Thandika Mkandawire (UNRISD)

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Thandika Mkandawire is Director of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), an autonomous UN agency in Geneva that engages in multidisciplinary research on the social dimensions of contemporary problems affecting development. A Swedish national of Malawian origin, he is an economist with many years' experience in the promotion of comparative research on development issues. He studied economics at Ohio State University and the University of Stockholm and has taught at the Universities of Stockholm and Zimbabwe. He holds a Doctorate of Letters from Rhodes University. From 1986 to 1996, he was Executive Secretary of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) at its headquarters in Dakar, Senegal. Prior to taking up his appointment with UNRISD in 1998, he was Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Development Research in Copenhagen. He has published widely on the social sciences in Africa and on problems of policy making, adjustment and democratization.

2007 Transformative Social policy and innovation in developing countries, European Journal of Development Research.
2006 Global Funds: Lessons from A not-too-distant Past? Africa Development, vol. 31 (4): 1-21. CODESRIA 
2001 Thinking About Development States in Africa, Cambridge Journal of Economics, 25: 289-314.
T. Mkandawire and C.C. Soludo
1999 Our Continent, Our Future: African Perspectives on Structural Adjustment, Dakar/Trenton, NJ: CODESRIA/African World Publications. 

Discussant: Bernard Berendsen

The current interest in 'state capacity building' is recognition of the maladjustment of the state over the last three decades of economic reform. This maladjustment has produced an anaemic state due to formulaic downsizing that has resulted in Africa being the least governed continent, as measured by the number of civil servants per 100 citizens. Reform has involved 'mono-cropping', which transplants one-size-fits-all institutions, and 'mono-tasking' that restricts the role of institutions and the activities they perform. And finally, it has limited the choices of elected governments by ring-fencing institutions and policies to prevent oversight by parliamentary institutions.

All successful 'late industrializers' have had states that assumed more than just regulatory roles. They have stimulated private actors, taken up entrepreneurial roles and coordinated economic activities. African countries will have to find institutions that can play functionally equivalent roles.