Skip to Main Navigation

Fragile states : stuck in a capability trap (English)

This paper addresses some of the challenges facing fragile states. The paper has four sections, each of which introduces an odd phrase. The first takes the odd phrase of isomorphic mimicry from evolutionary theory via sociologists of organizations to fragile states. It is much easier to create an organization that looks like a police force-with all the de jure forms organizational charts, ranks, uniforms, buildings, weapons-than it is to create an organization with the de facto function of enforcing the law. The second section focuses on wishful thinking; in particular, distinguishing between optimism, which can be a powerful positive force, and wishful thinking, which is not. The third section describes a key danger of wishful thinking: pre-mature load bearing. If an athlete has been injured then there has to be a period in which he/she does not put stress onto the injury. The fourth section examines whether there is a middle way out of the big stuck. The 'big stuck' is the combination of unfavorable domestic conditions plus unhelpful external factors that can create an environment in which fragile states remain fragile, with low capability and at risk of recurrent conflict, for a very long time. In this note authors focused on the parts of development related to administrative transformation, which is a distinct, but intertwined component of development, and particularly the administrative capability of the state.


  • Author

    Pritchett, Lant Weijer, Frauke de

  • Document Date


  • Document Type

    Working Paper

  • Report Number


  • Volume No


  • Total Volume(s)


  • Country


  • Region

    The World Region,

  • Disclosure Date


  • Disclosure Status


  • Doc Name

    Fragile states : stuck in a capability trap?

  • Keywords

    fragile states;fragile and conflict state;public sector reform agenda;millennium development goal;Fragile Countries;theory of change;global best practice;child labor regulation;indicators of governance;international aid community;organizational capability;short time span;service delivery mechanism;community run school;enforcement of contract;means of payment;international good practice;international development community;cumulative growth rate;level of governance;degree of corruption;Social Safety Nets;performance of organizations;police force effectiveness;array of service;aggregation rule;public school system;rate of change;level of performance;administrative capability;bureaucratic quality;organizational innovation;rapid change;Central Banking;good governance;organizational strategy;functional capability;international community;Fragile Situations;organizational dynamic;Gender Equality;multiple equilibrium;Competition Law;patent law;Bankruptcy Law;organizational form;core functions;human rights;universal suffrage;load bearing;Industrialized countries;technical expertise;external assistance;industrialized country;evolutionary theory;customary practice;policy outcome;development thinking;average progress;Land Registration;religious law;conflict mediation;living standard;conflict states;state responsibility;internal process;investment climate;political capabilities;implicit assumption;acquired knowledge;technological breakthrough;Macroeconomic Stability;political dynamic;government capability;regulatory capability;negative value;Short Term Assignment;comparative knowledge;private good;institutional integrity;Economic Policy;common feature;modern world;conceptual model;mental model;institutional incentive;organizational chart;historical process;military influence;potential danger;historical data;transitional period;dry year;selection bias;equal right;social transformation;temporal dynamics;positive outcome;amnesty international;domestic condition;education systems;institutional form;constituent elements;infrastructure provision;organizational structure;organizational reform;institutional performance;core service;Learning and Innovation Credit;citizen needs;public fund;political apparatus;systematic measurement;monopoly position;skill set;organizational control;private bank;upper bind;corruption level;state capacity;legal dispute;tax collection;accurate assessment;detection system;competitive sector;historical trajectory;intrinsic motivation;conflict countries;security regulation;social circumstances;environmental sustainability;public collection;organizational activity;national currency;stable price;formal schooling;educational institution;revenue agency;raise revenues;affirmative action;administrative cost;creative destruction;productivity increase;biological evolution;professional opportunities;



Official version of document (may contain signatures, etc)

  • Official PDF
  • TXT*
  • Total Downloads** :
  • Download Stats
  • *The text version is uncorrected OCR text and is included solely to benefit users with slow connectivity.


Pritchett, Lant Weijer, Frauke de

Fragile states : stuck in a capability trap (English). World Development Report background papers ; 2011 Washington, D.C. : World Bank Group.