Friday, January 14, 2011

Bridges Made of Paper?

Michael Woolcock recently wrote a CGD working paper with Lant Pritchett and Matt Andrews arguing that aid agencies have built a lot of bridges out of paper.  What do they mean by this?  They mean that aid projects have often put in place modern institutional forms, such as court systems or school systems, without much regard for the actual functioning of those institutions.

They call this approach isomorphic mimicry.  Mimicry is easier - and more feasible in the time span of a typical aid project.  But the authors argue that mimicry can actually retard the development of the desired functionality.

I spoke with Michael about the paper and some related issues, and you can listen here:
Listen to this episode