Governance, the State and the Politics of Development


Politics at the University of York (Heslington, York YO1 5DD), where he specializes in the politics of development. He is currently working on a comparative study of developmental states. Amongst his publications are Redefining Politics: People, Resources and Power (Methuen, 1983) and States of Development (Polity, forthcoming 1994).


Current western aid and development policy aims to promote ‘good governance’ in the third world. Few would deny that competent, open and fair administration is both a worthy aim and a self-evident requirement of development. However, the current orthodoxy clearly illustrates the technicist fallacy, which is implicit in the following quotation from Pope, that the effective administration or ‘management’ of development is essentially a technical or practical matter. This article argues that development is fundamentally a political matter and that it is illusory to conceive of good governance as independent of the forms of politics and type of state which alone can generate, sustain and protect it.

For Forms of Government, let fools contest; Whate'er is best administered, is best. (Pope, 1734: Bk 3, lines 303-4).