Theories of Development and External State-Building



Stephen D. Krasner, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University

Date and Time

April 6, 2017 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM


Open to the public.

No RSVP required


Encina Hall, 2nd floor

Abstract: Both the academic and policy making worlds have been dominated by three explanations for development, understood broadly as democratization and rising levels of per capita income. The first argument is modernization theory which assumes that if polities are provided with adequate resources, especially investment, they will develop. The second argument is institutional capacity approaches which focus on the ability of the state to maintain order. The third argument is rational choice institutionalism which sees deveopment as a rare event resulting from the self interested calculations of elites.  Happenstance and path-dependence play major roles for rational choice instititoinalism. All three of these approaches suffer from major gaps. All three, however, are consistent with the view that external state-building efforts will only be successful if the objectives of external and internal elites are complmentary. This suggests that for most polities the best that external actors can accomplish is Good Enough Governance: security, some service provision, some economic growth.

About the Speaker: Stephen Krasner is the Graham H. Stuart Professor of International Relations, the Senior Associate Dean for the Social Sciences, School of Humanities & Sciences, and the deputy director of FSI. A former director of CDDRL, Krasner is also an FSI senior fellow, and a fellow of the Hoover Institution.

From February 2005 to April 2007 he served as the Director of Policy Planning at the US State Department. While at the State Department, Krasner was a driving force behind foreign assistance reform designed to more effectively target American foreign aid. He was also involved in activities related to the promotion of good governance and democratic institutions around the world.

At CDDRL, Krasner was the coordinator of the Program on Sovereignty. His work has dealt primarily with sovereignty, American foreign policy, and the political determinants of international economic relations. Before coming to Stanford in 1981 he taught at Harvard University and UCLA. At Stanford, he was chair of the political science department from 1984 to 1991, and he served as the editor of International Organization from 1986 to 1992.

He has been a fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences (1987-88) and at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (2000-2001). In 2002 he served as director for governance and development at the National Security Council. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

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