Our Programmes



Sign up to our newsletter.

Follow ODI

'Big Men', Governance and Development in Neopatrimonial States

Working papers

Working papers

Well-governed, developed countries are characterised by democratic institutions, capable public services, a rule of law, a regulatory environment, watch-dog organisations and other attributes that contribute to the states’ functionality, prosperity and stability. In such countries when a leader is elected who is unwilling to, or incapable of, ruling well – honestly, fairly, and competently – political structures and well-articulated rules come into play to limit his actions and minimise the damage he can do. At the most extreme, impeachment is used, but in most cases other ‘checks and balances’ are utilised, e.g., commissions of inquiry, public hearings, grand juries, parliamentary oversight committees, and the like. When the situation has not deteriorated to the extent that such extreme measures are required, constitutional provisions, regulations, public oversight, and the law – used by the police, courts, the media, political parties, and the people – restrict the behaviour of a bad leader. Thus such states can generally contain and ‘digest’ the excesses of limited-term, poor leadership.

Diana Cammack