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Fragile States - stuck in a capability trap?

The paper focuses on four challenges for fragile states: (1) isomorphic mimicry from evolutionary theory (that animals sometimes use deception to look more dangerous than they are to enhance survival) ; (2) wishful thinking; (3) pre-mature load bearing; and (4) a middle way advocating for a “good enough” approach to problems. The danger of isomorphic mimicry is that it encourages mimics, which can adopt the camouflage of capability organizations without any of the associated drive for performance. Wishful thinking, which is distinguished from optimism, can be a powerful positive force, but its flaw comes from assuming a faster speed at which state capability can be built. A key danger of wishful thinking comes from pre-mature load bearing. Asking fragile states to move forward too quickly, even with desirable steps, risks creating pressures that collapse what little capability has been created. As a middle way, the “good enough” approach to governance demonstrates how to gain benefits of systemic impact and scale but with the virtues of flexibility.

Published 2011-10-28

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