One of the most important lessons to emerge in international development thinking and practice over the past two decades is that institutions matter for development, and that behind institutions lie politics. Despite vast amounts of support from the international assistance community, increased resourcing and improved policies and/or formal systems, many states and governments across the developing world have remained unable to provide adequately for the well-being of their populations at large.
This has helped crystallise the fact that the challenge of development lies not so much in what needs to be done (be this building schools or providing vaccinations) and identifying the right ‘technical fix’, but rather, more fundamentally, in how it is done (processes that facilitate or obstruct change). Getting to the ‘how’ requires a solid understanding of the institutional dynamics at work, both formal and informal, and the kinds of incentives they generate.
Alina Rocha Menocal