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Strauss, Julia (2023) 'Pockets of Effectiveness: Afterwards and New Beginnings.' In: Hickey, Sam, (ed.), Pockets of Effectiveness and the Politics of State-building and Development in Africa. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 235-244.

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This commentary reflects critically on the contribution that this volume makes to the study of PoEs and state capacity in the Global South, and prompts a rethinking of some of the author’s own decades old work on Republican-era China. It lauds the ways in which the political settlements approach substantially adds to the extant literature on PoEs. In recognizing that organizations are never divorced from their surrounding environments, the political settlement typology explains systematic variation both between cases and over time, with shifting interactions between technical domain, the skill of organizational leadership, and the overall political settlement leading to differing and changing ‘degrees of PoE-ness’. At the same time, these reflections suggest that the volume’s case selections of presumptive excellence, which the authors call the ‘logistical’ segments of the state, are almost entirely within the economic technocracy. A disaggregation of why ‘excellence’ appears to be so concentrated in the economic technocracy, and which of its PoE-fostering features might be applied fruitfully to very different arenas of policy implementation, particularly those that require service delivery or behavioural change, is a natural next step for research on PoEs.

Item Type: Book Chapters
Keywords: pockets of effectiveness, China, political settlements, service delivery, economic technocracy
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Politics & International Studies
ISBN: 9780192864963
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 07 Aug 2023 13:14

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