GPAC² keynote speech: Development and the Role of Pockets of Effectiveness

Wil Hout, International Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam

This article focuses on the notion of ‘pockets of effectiveness’ in the light of the theorisation of regulated neopatrimonialism. The attention to pockets of effectiveness – understood as public organisations which deliver public goods and services relatively effectively in contexts of largely ineffective government – adds to the understanding of regulated neopatrimonialism by focusing on the conditions under which conditions public sector organisations may contribute to development.

The literature emphasises that two sets of factors contribute to the creation of pockets of effectiveness. Contextual political-economic factors relate to: political processes, political institutions and material interests and power positions of social groups. Internal factors concern organisational leadership and management, and the functions and attributes of organisations.

The article analyses the operations of several oil and gas companies in Russia and Kazakhstan in order to see how these firms are influenced by their political-economic environment and how they manage, or fail, to establish developmental potential. Russia’s political system is an example of regulated neopatrimonialism, while Kazakhstan is an example of a predatory form of neopatrimonialism. The article concludes that the establishment of pockets of effectiveness in post-Soviet countries is rather difficult but not impossible in the case of Russia. The relative success of certain companies seems to result from the leadership’s adjustment to external political-economic realities and the establishment of a modus vivendi with the incumbent regime.

About the speaker
Wil Hout is Professor of Governance and International Political Economy at the International Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam. His research interests relate to international relations, development assistance and issues of (‘good’) governance. He is the author of Capitalism and the Third World (Edward Elgar, 1993), The Politics of Aid Selectivity (Routledge, 2007) and (co-)editor of six volumes and special journal issues, most recently of Governance and the Depoliticisation of Development (with Richard Robison, Routledge, 2009) and EU Strategies on Governance Reform: Between Development and State-building (Routledge, 2013). He has published articles in, among others, Acta Politica, Critical Asian Studies, Development and Change, the European Journal of International Relations, the , Journal of Development Studies and Third World Quarterly.

Date: 21 November 2013

Time: 11:00 - 12:00  CET