How politics shapes development and why this matters: the role of incentives, ideas and coalitions

Prof. Sam Hickey, Effective States and Inclusive Development Research Centre & Global Development Institute, University of Manchester

That politics shapes development in the global south is now broadly accepted amongst leading development theorists and agencies alike. However, there is less agreement over which forms of politics matter most, how these can be conceptualised and what kinds of policy implications flow from thinking politically about development. This seminar addresses these questions by presenting the key findings of a five-year comparative investigation into the politics of development in Africa and Asia. We find that the capacity and commitment to deliver development are primarily shaped by the interaction of two fields of power relations, namely the ‘political settlement’ (defined by the distribution of power amongst elites and social groups) and specific ‘policy domains’, both of which are constituted by ideas as well as institutions and interests. The paper focuses on two policy domains, social protection and women’s empowerment, to potential and pitfalls of international efforts to promote development in different types of political settlement. Our findings challenge the promotion of democratic good governance as a panacea for development problems, and are broadly supportive of the ‘good enough governance agenda’, particularly in terms of supporting coalitions-for-change. However, they also raise concerns that the new ‘thinking and working politically’ agenda, and calls for development to ‘go with the grain’ of existing political settlements, may undermine the pursuit of social justice.



About the speaker

Sam Hickey is Professor of Politics and Development at the Global Development Institute, University of Manchester and joint Research Director (with Kunal Sen) of the Effective States and Inclusive Development Research Centre. His work has been published in the leading journals in politics, development studies and African studies, and he has edited six collections, the most recent of which was entitled The Politics of Inclusive Development: Interrogating the Evidence (Oxford University Press, 2015; with Kunal Sen and Badru Bukenya). His current work focuses on natural resource governance, social protection and state capacity in Africa, particularly in the form of bureaucratic pockets of bureaucratic effectiveness.



Date: 30 March 2017

Time: 12:00 - 13:00


UNU-MERIT