Inclusion in terms of both process (how decisions are made, and who is included in that process, how and why) and outcomes (how wealth and prosperity are distributed and shared across a population and why) is a leading priority in international development, with the Sustainable Development Goals as perhaps the most ambitious articulation of this. As the evidence overwhelmingly shows, over the long term, more open and inclusive states and societies tend to be more prosperous, effective and resilient. And yet, it is far less clear how countries that today can be considered more inclusive in terms of both process and outcome got to where they are.
In this paper we explore the relationship between inclusive governance and inclusive development, which is complex and nonlinear. Analysing existing research on the politics of development finds that there is no automatic causal relationship between inclusion as process and inclusion as outcome in either direction. We then highlight several factors that have been important in fostering inclusive development through inclusive governance. By way of conclusion, the paper draws out a few key implications for how international development actors can support inclusion more effectively through more politically aware ways of thinking and working.