A recent Joint Statement by five development research programmes states that it is ‘time to open up the black box of weak political will' in developing African countries. In most of these countries, this ‘black box' contains incentives that reproduce competitive clientelism and policies geared to short-run advantage. Despite recent economic growth, genuinely developmental regimes are very much in the minority.
Several ways of addressing this issue are being explored by DRA, building on the findings of Tracking Development (TD) and Africa Power and Politics (APPP). An important remaining question, however, is how the international system might become more conducive to the emergence of developmental regimes.
It is well established that the non-aid policies of Northern countries in the fields of banking, taxation and armaments influence the incentives of African political elites for the worse. But recent research has also drawn attention to other ways in which the global environment is unfriendly to the emergence and sustainability of developmental regimes. They include:
Research in this stream will draw together the evidence supporting these claims, using secondary analysis of relevant historical experiences. It will explore the feasibility of reversing recent trends or mitigating their effects.
Botswana, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Korea, Kenya, Malaysia, Rwanda, Taiwan, Uganda.
Dr David Booth, Politics and Governance Programme, Overseas Development Institute, London.