Building State Capability as THE 21st Century Development Issue

This talk will examine an alternative approach to building state capability and review the initial lessons emerging from those who are putting it into practice.

  • 6 Dec 2018, 4.15pm to 6 Dec 2018, 5.45pm GMT
  • 3 East, 2.1, University of Bath
  • This event is free
Ancient greek ruins
Building state capacity in the 21st century

In an interconnected world with ever-expanding development goals, building state capability for policy implementation is an increasingly vital issue for all countries.

Yet prevailing 'capacity building' strategies are too often part of the problem. Applied researchers, for their part, mostly explore the 'policy implications' of their work rather than discern whether a given administrative apparatus can actually do whatever is being asked of it.

Drawing on his book 'Building State Capability: Evidence, Analysis Action' (with Matt Andrews and Lant Pritchett; Oxford University Press 2017), Michael's talk will move beyond mere critique. It will outline an alternative approach to building state capability, and review the initial lessons emerging from teams who are beginning to put it into practice, within the World Bank and beyond.

Speaker profiles

Michael Woolcock is Lead Social Scientist in the World Bank's Development Research Group, where he was worked since 1998. For 13 of those years he has also been part-time Lecturer in Public Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.

His current research focuses on strategies for enhancing state capability for implementation, on crafting more effective interaction between informal and formal justice systems, and on using mixed methods to assess 'complex' development interventions.

His published work also includes Contesting Development: Participatory Projects and Local Conflict Dynamics in Indonesia with Patrick Barron and Rachael Diprose, Yale University Press 2011.


3 East, 2.1 University of Bath Claverton Down Bath BA2 7AY United Kingdom


If you have any questions, please contact us.